As we enter the final days of summer, I would like to extend a heartfelt welcome to all those who are newcomers to our beloved, historic city! Alexandria is a stunning city in every season, but especially with the fall foliage that will be here soon.
Founded in 1749, Alexandria is authentic and charming. With a number of historic districts throughout our city, we are a city of great and diverse neighborhoods. Old Town Alexandria is recognized as a national treasure with its restored homes and buildings of the 1700s and 1800s, gas lampposts, brick sidewalks, cobblestone streets, and historic markers. You can visit historic sites such as Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, where important figures such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, and the Marquis de Lafayette ate, drank, and at great risk, planned the creation of our nation. Historic preservation is a core value here, and it is one of the major reasons over three million people visit Alexandria each year.
Alexandria is also an arts destination that includes our Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, MetroStage’s award-winning theater, the Art League, and numerous art galleries. One of my favorite places to visit with family and friends is the internationally known Torpedo Factory Art Center.
A vibrant city of 150,000 residents, Alexandria still retains its small-town feel. You can find fresh produce and goods at our many Farmers’ Markets. Old Town’s Market Square is home to the oldest continuous Farmers’ Market in the country. And don’t miss our well-known, unique shops throughout our city. From Old Town to Del Ray and the West End, Alexandria is a city for foodies, known for some of the best culinary talent in the region.
We have beautiful parks plus biking and walking trails. Some of my favorite places to go for a walk or to meet friends are Founders Park, Oronoco Bay Park, Fort Ward Park, and Brenman Park. Many of our parks have recently been improved with the help of community support, including donations and volunteerism. We also have a community-wide goal of “greening up” our city and dramatically increasing our tree canopy. I encourage everyone to join fellow Alexandrians in this team effort to plant trees. During the past two years, together we have nearly tripled the number of trees planted per year.
Alexandria is a city of kindness and compassion. The City Council and I signed a Statement of Inclusiveness reaffirming our strong commitment to diversity and declaring our city to be a hate-free zone. This is a core value of our city. There is no place for intolerance here.
Alexandria has a phenomenal nonprofit sector. If you would like to volunteer, we have plenty of opportunities for you. We are a can-do city. Our citizens are known for seeing an issue and rolling up their sleeves to create change. Check out Volunteer Alexandria for information about volunteer opportunities.
Here are fun highlights for the coming months. On Sept. 22, TWIG will host its 77th Annual Historic Alexandria Homes Tour. On Oct. 6, Del Ray will host its Art on the Avenue. Be sure not to miss the Del Ray Halloween Parade. On Dec. 1, the Campagna Center’s Scottish Christmas Walk Parade celebrates our Scottish heritage. There is our ever-popular First Night Alexandria on New Year’s Eve. In 2019, we will enjoy our George Washington Birthday Parade, the Ballyshaners’ St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and Alexandria’s annual birthday celebration. These annual traditions create the glue that gives our city an abiding sense of community.
At City Hall, we are working hard for all our residents. I ask you to help us make our great city even greater by sharing your ideas with us. Please don’t hesitate to speak out about issues. You may also consider joining one of our boards or commissions. Civic engagement is critically important. One Saturday a month, the City Council holds a monthly public hearing, and at the beginning of the meeting, residents may speak for three minutes about any concern or suggestion. I welcome your input and host a monthly coffee called “Mayor on Your Corner,” where all are encouraged to come share thoughts and concerns. I am deeply honored to serve as your Mayor.
Please let me know if I may ever be of any help. Together, we are making Alexandria even stronger. Welcome!