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Neighborhood: Seminary Valley July 19-25

Just in from vacation and ready to reassume my column-writing duties!

On Monday, Aug. 6 come on over to Polk Elementary School for the Neighborhood Night Out. The festivities, which are held one night before the "National Night Out Against Crime," begin at 6:30 p.m. This is always a great event and will feature the usual snow cones, music by local young musicians under Vaughan Ambrose’s baton, and other "surprises". Marianne Hetzer (mwhetzer@comcast.net) has all the details if you need more information.

The Sonodas of Latham Street (who were just featured in the Washington Post Magazine) have a story to tell that will make you want to show up at Polk on the Aug. 6. Erin Sonoda, who just graduated from T.C. Williams, was coming home from the midnight Harry Potter showing on Tuesday when she noticed a young man standing on the corner of Taney and Latham. Erin thought it unusual to see anyone standing there at 3 o’clock in the morning but, being 18, she was not unduly alarmed; when she got out of her car to go into the house she also noticed that her mother’s car’s dome light was on! She stayed put and called big brother Evan on her cell phone, who dialed 911 from the land line.

After some tense moments, a neighbor’s car alarm sounded, and Erin ran into the house. The police arrived, sans sirens and the Sonodas told them to look down near Holmes Run Park, where the perpetrators were caught. It was pretty obvious by illuminated interior car lights up and down Latham that the duo had tried to hit every car on the street. According to Lana Sonoda, Evan and Erin’s mother, other neighbors have been hit lately, with nothing of real value taken, and neighbors on other streets have suffered as well. Thanks to Evan and Erin, at least one enterprising crime duo is off the streets.

Kudos also go to our friend and neighbor Brian Marquis, of Pickett Street, who recently received an award from the Alexandria Recreation Department for his efforts in securing new signage for our beloved Holmes Run Park and Greenway. Brian, who is active in the Holmes Run Park Committee and the local Civic Association, is a graphic designer with considerable expertise in signage and symbols. On his daily walks along the bike path, Brian noticed that many of the parks’ signs were a hodgepodge of inconsistent and contradictory information. In 2005, citizen Brian took pictures of the signs, sent them to the city along with a short proposal and voila, there are six new signs along Holmes Run with hours, rules and maps of the local area. Brian is advising Dora Kelly Nature Park as its staff contemplates a similar effort. Thanks also to neighbor Elizabeth Wright, who nominated Brian for this award.

The Alexandria Animal Shelter’s yearly calendar often features Seminary Valley pets, and neighbor Sandy Yamamoto reminds you all to be a part of the Shelter’s 2008 calendar. Submit a good quality 4X6 photo of your pet (no people, please), one entry per pet. On the back of the photo, attach a sticky note with the pet’s name, owner’s name and phone number. Entries must be received by Aug. 24 and the fee is $25 per entry, mailed to: AWLA, Attn. Pets of Alexandria Calendar, 4101 Eisenhower Avenue, 22304. You can also stop by the Shelter any time to enter a raffle for Nationals tickets. You may enter as many times as you wish; the drawing is slated for Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 3 p.m.

In other pet news, members of Mr. Minor’s first fifth grade class at Polk (2006 graduates) should know that Reeses the hamster, the class pet for the school year, has gone to hamster heaven. She lived a glorious, pampered life at 959 North Pegram St. until last week. Many thanks to Caroline, Maggie and Grant Chamberlain, who sent Reeses off with a lovely service in our back yard while we were on vacation. "Snickers" has taken up residence in Reeses’ former abode and welcomes all visitors.

— Mia Jones

Patrick.jones44@verizon.net