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Clarendon Celebrates Mardi Gras

Parade brings patrons to Clarendon businesses, kicks off new ART shuttle service.

Wilson Boulevard became a dreamland for Dolly O’Dell last week.

Candy and strands of plastic beads flew through the air as Clarendon’s second annual Mardi Gras parade swept down the street in front of 2-year-old O’Dell, who rode her father’s shoulders to get a better look at the floats.

“She can’t believe her luck,” said Jack O’Dell, her father.

Almost 3,000 people lined Wilson Boulevard to watch the parade Tuesday, March 4, and get a chance to catch traditional Mardi Gras beads. The event brought parents to enjoy the family atmosphere with their children, while other residents took advantage of the food and drink specials offered at Clarendon bars and restaurants.

“The parade was a great success,” said Sona Virdi, director of the Clarendon Alliance, which organized the event.

It also called attention to the new Arlington Transit bus route 66, the Clarendon-Courthouse Lunch Loop, a free shuttle service through the county’s ART bus line that began service on the day of the parade.

An ART bus, with County Board chair Paul Ferguson and Board member Barbara Favola aboard, led the parade from Danville Street down Wilson Boulevard through the Courthouse and Clarendon neighborhoods, followed by over a dozen floats sponsored by local businesses.

SEVERAL FLOATS featured musicians, who kept the parade lively. Some residents dressed in traditional Mardi Gras masks and costumes, while others were more dressed-down.

Local resident Keith Willis said his sweat shirt practically doubled as a suitcase for carrying all the beads his daughter caught. “I’m not really this fat,” he joked, pointing to his stuffed pockets. Willis said the parade was a great environment for children.

Local police officers were on hand to reroute traffic and ensure safety at the parade. No incidents were reported, and Virdi thanked police for their help.

Virdi has had plenty of experience organizing large events like the Mardi Gras parade — the Clarendon Alliance also organizes Tax Blues Night, a farmers market and an Antiques and Collectibles Market. The events help local businesses and foster a neighborhood feeling in Clarendon.

The Lunch Loop is an important feature as well, said Virdi. Clarendon businesses help sponsor the free service and in turn get to advertise on the buses.

The shuttle operates weekdays 11 a.m.-2 p.m. During that time, buses make about 15 trips through the 3-mile loop from Courthouse Plaza to Clarendon. There are approximately 15 stops on the route, marked by gold and green signs. More information on the route is available at www.arlingtontransit.com, or by calling 703-228-RIDE.