Saturday started out as a rainy day, and, even after it cleared, remained windy enough to send vendor's tables flying. But that wasn't enough to keep people from gathering in Clarendon for food, music, crafts and more at the annual Clarendon Day event. An estimated 10,000 people, 23 performers and 72 vendors participated.
"The rain did us in a bit at the beginning, but Arlington residents are steadfast and hearty and waited for it to clear up,” said Sona Virdi, executive director of the Clarendon Alliance. Virdi also said that this might be the last year for the free event due to a change in Arlington Police policy. While security for the event is currently free, next year the police department will charge for its services; Virdi estimates the cost could be $8,000 to $12,000. "As a nonprofit organization, we can't afford to have a free event on top of that," she said.
But the possible future troubles weren't known to most of the attendees. "This might be the last year? That's sad," said Sarah Tucker, 32, of Arlington. "We come every year, and I love it." Tucker said she especially enjoys the music and the craft vendors.
Get-out-the-vote efforts were present and obvious, with many attendees wearing a sticker or more for their favorite candidate. At the Democratic party booth, $700 had been raised by 2 p.m., said Alfonso Lopez, co-chair of the joint (Kerry-Edwards and Congressman Jim Moran) campaign for Arlington. "It's going really well, and there's a lot of energy for Kerry," he said.
At the Republican booth, Matt Robbins, Field Director for Northern Virginia for the Republican Party of Virginia, helped distribute campaign materials for President Bush and Republican Congressional candidate Lisa Marie Cheney. About 50 volunteers were at the event, he said. "We draw a more active grassroots base here" than elsewhere in Virginia, he said. "Young professionals are my pillars."
Children rode on a special bicycle designed by Alexandria artist Howard Connelly, had their faces painted at the James Monroe Bank's tent, enjoyed rock-climbing, and drew on sidewalks and walls with chalk provided by the Museum of Modern Arf. Nate Nisenson, 8, of Arlington, wore a stick of black chalk to a stub creating a Halloween cat.
"The day has been great, but the weather's a little goofy," said his mother, Lisa Nisenson.