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Donna Manz

Stories by Donna

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Holiday Gifting from Toys to Acts of Kindness

The spirit of the season is giving of love.

There’s still plenty of time to buy gifts for family and party hosts. There is even time to buy a gift or two for someone without the means to reciprocate. Here are a few ideas from local shops, restaurants and resources. And, please, remember that gifts do not have to come in wrapping to be welcomed and appreciated.

Holiday Shopping the ‘Small-town’ Way

Local businesses offer personalized service, distinctive and unique gifts

So, you ask, what makes shopping at Vienna’s small businesses a pleasant, rewarding experience. For starters, merchandise and services are likely to be unique and distinctive, and customer service is typically personal and enthusiastic. You can go to the mall and find the same brands, harried employees and temporary staffing at one store or another. Or … you can shop locally where the merchants are your neighbors, your fellow club or church members, and community supporters. From one-of-a-kind hand-knit hats to wood birdhouses and bat condominiums, Vienna-logo gifts, and pumpkin pie liqueur, there’s something for everyone in Vienna’s hometown shops.

Walking for a Burning Reason

Flicker of Hope fundraiser benefits burn survivors.

When David Borowski was 6 weeks old, his mother witnessed his bassinet suddenly burst into flames—with her newborn in it. She grabbed her infant to her chest, trying to smother the fire engulfing his little form. The telephone was enveloped by the fire, and David’s mom ran to the street.

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Vienna Halloween Parade Attracts Thousands

Costumed children, bands, floats and vehicles anchor 90-minute parade.

As chilly—and drizzly—as it was, the weather did not deter thousands of local families to line Maple Avenue on Wednesday, Oct. 23 to celebrate the 67th annual Vienna Halloween Parade. Hosted for the first time ever as a partnership between the Town of Vienna and the year-old Vienna Business Association [VBA], the parade featured Vienna Mayor M. Jane Seeman as its Grand Marshal in 2013. New this year was a concert presented on the Town Green by the School of Rock as an early evening prelude to the parade.

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Halloween Parade Steps Off on Oct. 23

Pre-parade entertainment on Town Green new in 2013.

Vienna’s longest-running and most-anticipated annual event—the 67th Vienna Halloween parade—steps off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23. One hundred-plus groups, clubs, bands and floats take over Maple Avenue between Berry and Center streets.

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Halloween Parade Steps Off on Oct. 23

Pre-parade entertainment on Town Green new in 2013.

Vienna’s longest-running and most-anticipated annual event—the 67th Vienna Halloween parade—steps off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23. One hundred-plus groups, clubs, bands and floats take over Maple Avenue between Berry and Center streets. With a theme of “Celebrating Music and Theatre Through the Decades,” the parade is led by Grand Marshal Vienna Mayor M. Jane Seeman. The parade was originally founded to give Vienna children an opportunity to dress in costume and march through the town. The tradition holds fast today.

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Fire Stations Host Open Houses

Vienna fire department wins best open house for 2nd Battalion for third straight year.

Fairfax County fire stations capped off National Fire Prevention Week with station “open houses” throughout the County on Oct. 12. In Vienna zipcodes 22180 through 22182, there are two fire and rescue departments, Station 2 in the heart of Vienna, and the newly-launched Wolftrap station, number 42. The Wolftrap station celebrated its grand opening with the ceremonial “push-in” of its engine. Fairfax County fire stations capped off National Fire Prevention Week with station “open houses” throughout the County on Oct. 12. In Vienna zipcodes 22180 through 22182, there are two fire and rescue departments, Station 2 in the heart of Vienna, and the newly-launched Wolftrap station, number 42.

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Vienna Commemorates ‘A Day to Remember’

Town, American Legion Post 180, pay tribute to lives lost on September 11, 2001.

On a hot and humid September 11, 2013, people in Vienna—as they did in towns and cities across America—reflected on the horrific terrorist attack that altered the lives of Americans from that date forward 12 years ago. More than 3,000 innocent human beings lost their lives when jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center twin towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. Patriot Day pays tribute to lives lost, lives impacted and to the living who put themselves in harm's way to protect the nation.

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Koi Bring a Bit of Japan to Vienna

ZNA Potomac Koi Club hosts weekend competition at Meadowlark Gardens.

If Meadowlark Botanical Gardens and glistening other-worldly koi seem to be a perfect fit, that’s because they were harmoniously wed on Sept. 7 and 8, as the ZNA Potomac Koi Club presented its annual koi show and competition. The competition, bringing in nishikigoi [koi] hobbyists from Connecticut to South Carolina, was open and free to the public. Two hundred and sixty two nishikigoi, “living jewels,” entered the competition this year, breaking the Potomac chapter’s record for the show.

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Regional Flavors of India Come to Vienna

Curry Mantra 3 offers traditional and signature dishes.

Curry Mantra 3 turned upside-down the adage, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” on Sept. 8. Not only did the new restaurant at Cedar Park Shopping Center serve free lunch to celebrate its grand opening, it served free dinner, as well. Vienna guests and loyal customers from Curry Mantra 1 and 2 lined up at the door in support of Vienna’s newest entry into the town’s burgeoning restaurant scene. A hostess manning the door let people in as guests left—that’s how busy it was.

Viewpoints: What are you looking forward to the most this school year?

“I’m looking forward to sports, football, basketball … looking forward to that. Also the challenge of new classes this year because junior year is typically the most difficult. I’m starting to look at colleges this year.”

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Excited to Go Back to School

Fairfax County Public Schools began school year on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

If any of the children waiting at a Westbriar Elementary School bus stop had first-day-of-school jitters, no one showed them. The kids intuitively lined up as the bus approached the stop as parents waved good-bye. The children were excited; parents marked another passage in their children’s lives.

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Capturing Vienna’s History

Historic Vienna, Inc. project recorded and filmed residents’ recollections of earlier Vienna.

There was a time when there was no Rt. 66 ramp in Vienna … mainly because there was a time when there was no Rt. 66 anywhere nearby. Nor was there a Capital Beltway. There was, however, a time when a train from Alexandria stopped in Vienna going west. There was a time when there were maple trees on Maple Avenue and churches along Church Street. Before Louise Archer Elementary School was named after the principal who ran the school for many pivotal years, it was a “colored” school.

The Beauty of Vienna Living

From national recognition to local perspective, views on life in Vienna.

What surprised many people living in the Vienna area is not that Vienna was voted by Money magazine as the third best small town to live in in America but that it did not come in first. That’s Vienna pride.

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A Fading Craft Thrives in Vienna

Guarantee Shoe Repair blends business with congeniality and nature.

The cream-colored two-story clapboard house at 131 Church St. N.W. could be mostly any one’s home in Vienna. It’s well cared-for with rose bushes and an array of flowers and greenery out front. To the side is a small fish pond and to the back is a gazebo anchored by a fountain. The gazebo’s flooring covers an obsolete well whose pump remains a visual magnet.

School Bells Ring Sept. 3

Local schools gearing up for new critical thinking programs.

It’s that time of the year when school bells across the region begin ringing … families are doing last-minute back-to-school shopping for supplies and clothes, the days are getting shorter, fall sports are at practice and children are playing outside until dusk. It won’t last much longer. Fairfax County Public Schools start the school year on Tuesday, Sept. 3, possibly the last year the county will be required to schedule the school calendar year after Labor Day. Fairfax County Public Schools’ new initiative is to develop 21st century learning skills among its students. Several Vienna-area elementary school administrators shared “what’s new” at their schools.

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Packing Healthful Sack Lunches Children Will Eat

Local experts offer lunch suggestions, recipes.

The bigger challenge for mom or dad than building a healthful sack lunch is building a healthful sack lunch that tastes good-enough to eat. If children are not actually eating what you serve them, it makes little difference how healthy the ingredients are. That’s where local food specialists lend a hand. Registered dietician Judy Caplan and professional chef—and mother of two school-aged kids—Christine Wisnewski share suggestions, tips and recipes for planning sack lunches your kids will eat because they enjoy doing so. Healthy and tasty—the ultimate combination.

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‘Aida’ Rocks Vienna in Musical Spectacular

Vienna Youth Players presented Elton John’s Broadway blockbuster.

Calling the Vienna Youth Players’ production of Elton John’s “Aida” an “amateur” production is like calling the Concorde an airplane, the Beatles singers and Michelangelo a painter.

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Sharing Expertise on Child Development

Kristen Paral of Vienna helps parents master techniques that foster the growth of well-adjusted, confident children.

While feathering your nest may turn your house into a home, occasionally, de-feathering and shifting direction may transform your happy nest into a happy and serene haven for your family.

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Culinaria Campers Cook Haute Cuisine

Kids’ camps run one-week sessions, touring the world through food.

Here’s one thing that Culinaria Cooking School’s summer camp has that no other summer camp around has … food … gourmet food. The culinary campers tour the world in food journeys. And if nine one-week-long camps can fill up for the duration of the summer, it says a lot about the palates of area children.

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Vienna Hosts Fun-filled 4th of July

Festival, fireworks, highlight small-town celebration.

Traditionally, hundreds of families come out for the Town of Vienna’s annual Independence Day festival and fireworks show. This year was no different.

VVFD Auctions Date With Firefighter

Men and women of Vienna fire department fuel fundraiser.

“The idea, initially, made people [firefighters and EMTs] hesitant, but when they realized it wasn’t a real date, but actually a group dinner, we got a lot more interest and support from them.” - VVFD President Anthony Stancampiano

Elevation Burger Takes the Hamburger Higher

New restaurant features grass-fed, free-range and organic beef.

There are hamburgers and then there are hamburgers freshly-ground from humanely-raised, grass-fed, free-range beef … it’s also USDA-certified organic.

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Professional Business Organizations Meet on Softball Field

Vienna Business Association and Vienna Business Networking International inaugurate annual softball game.

The Vienna Business Association [VBA] faced off with challenger Vienna Business Networking International [BNI] on June 23 in a closely-contested softball game at Southside Field. Family and colleagues cheered on their players and BNI edged out VBA for a 20-18 win. The match, bringing in players that belong to either of the two professional business clubs or serving double-duty in both clubs (not counting a few ringers), was a friendly competition supported by a barbeque buffet catered by Red, White and Blue, and a bounce-house to keep the children entertained.

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Rotary Club of Vienna Honors Members

2013-2014 Board of Directors installed, outstanding members honored.

The Rotary Club of Vienna, which, during the past year, donated $168,000 to local schools, nonprofits and the Town of Vienna, installed its 2013-2014 slate of officers at a banquet program on June 19. More than 80 guests attended as members of the service club were honored for outstanding participation.

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Levey’s Washington Revisited in Vienna

Shepherd’s Center of Oakton-Vienna hosts Bob Levey at luncheon.

Bob Levey’s 37-year career with the Washington Post spanned the eras of Watergate, Desert Storm and the rise of Internet news reporting. For 23 years, Levey wrote Bob Levey’s Washington, a personal look at the region he loves. He shared his experiences on June 10 with guests of Shepherd Center of Oakton-Vienna’s Lunch ‘n’ Life, drawing on anecdotes and perspectives.

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Volunteering Gives Seniors a Sense of Fulfillment

Shepherd Center network provides opportunities for seniors to help seniors.

Kathy Tugendhat chairs the Adventures in Learning organizing committee at Shepherd’s Center of Oakton-Vienna (SCOV). She teaches conversational ESL at Patrick Henry Library, one-on-one. On Wednesdays in the summer months, Tugendhat tells stories and leads songs for youngsters on the grounds of the Little Library. She sings with the Vienna Choral Society because she loves it. “It keeps me young,” said Tugendhat. She’s also 80 years old.

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Book Sale Draws Hundreds to Vienna Community Center

25,000 books and more than 70 volunteers bring two-day Historic Vienna, Inc.’s sale to life.

When the doors opened at the Vienna Community Center on June 8, welcoming buyers to the annual Historic Vienna, Inc. [HVI] book sale, more than 25,000 books awaited them. And this is one well-organized book sale. Books were arranged by genre, from mystery and novels to reference books and cookbooks. “Treasures,” those books that are rare or vintage, have their own nook.

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Vienna Idol Raises $14,500

Grace Atiyeh to give her $500 prize to charities.

Six finalists waited through “The Final Countdown” to learn who would become the new Vienna Idol. From six, it came down to three in the June 7 competition.

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Maplewood Grill Continues the Fine Dining Tradition

Father and son keep local restaurant part of community.

The years that Chef Paul Kuchler spent at the sides of the classical chefs who worked his father’s kitchen at Le Canard paid off. Kuchler now is co-owner and head chef of Maplewood Grill, designing the menu, perpetuating some of Le Canard’s traditional recipes, refining new signature dishes and overseeing the kitchen details of Maplewood Grill. It was Marcel Kuchler’s idea to reinvent his French restaurant as one with a contemporary American spin and his son Paul took off with the concept.

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Animals Blessed in Vienna

Antioch Christian Church holds its third annual blessing for family pets.

Antioch Christian Church, the quaint white clapboard church on Beulah Road, hosted its third annual pet blessing on June 2 and pet parents came from throughout the area to have their pets blessed by Antioch’s pastor, Randy Beeman. Any family pet, of any species, was welcome.

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Public Works Day Draws Hundreds to Property Yard

Children climb in heavy equipment and wear hardhats.

Every year, during National Public Works Week, the Town of Vienna opens up its property yard on Mill Street to the public. This is no ordinary “open house,” either. The equipment, from ditch diggers to garbage trucks and front loaders and everything a town needs to maintain its infrastructure, is washed clean and spiffy-ed up. The all-afternoon event on May 23 featured snacks, give-outs that kids like—from blowup balls to hardhats—popcorn, tattooing and the chance to climb into a police car without being hauled off to the police station. Kids look forward to Public Works Day all year.

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Summer Fun Abounds in Vienna

Guide to special events and children’s activities.

Every Friday and Sunday evening—and summer Wednesday—free concerts liven up the Vienna Town Green. Sponsored by the Town of Vienna’s Parks and Recreation Department and local businesses and individuals, the concerts feature local musicians and special guests, including the armed forces bands.

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Community Comes Together for ViVa! Vienna!

Annual three-day Rotary Club festival featured food, amusement rides, live entertainment and 300-plus vendor marketplace.

Thousands of local families, teens, seniors, preschoolers and friends thronged the historic Church Street corridor over Memorial Day weekend at ViVa! Vienna! The annual festival, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Greater Vienna, featured 30 amusement rides for children of all ages, fried food, fresh food and frozen food, live entertainment on two stages—three if you count Vienna Idol—and more than 300 vendors selling arts, crafts, goods and services.

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ViVa! Vienna! Returns Memorial Day Weekend

Three-day festival features live entertainment, carnival food, rides and 300-plus vendors.

ViVa! Vienna! is back: Carnival midway, live entertainment and food vendors kick-off the three-day Memorial Day weekend festival on Saturday, May 25. And that’s just the beginning. On Sunday, more than 300 vendors—selling crafts, goods and services—converge along the historic Church Street corridor, hosting upwards of 50,000 visitors to the festival sponsored by the Rotary Club of Greater Vienna.

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Vienna Woman’s Club Awards Scholarships

Madison HS seniors, Vienna elementary schools recipients of club’s generosity.

The Vienna Woman’s Club celebrated 51 years of scholarship awards on May 15 at a program honoring three local high school seniors and four Vienna elementary schools. The scholarship winners each received a $1,000 check from the Woman’s Club. “The scholarships honor exceptional seniors and their families,” said Scholarship and Education Committee co-chair Jo-Lynn Westlund.

Incumbents Retain Town Council Seats

Standing under umbrellas, the four candidates running for three Vienna Town Council seats greeted voters in a rain steady throughout most of the morning and early afternoon. The rain wasn’t torrential but neither was voter turnout throughout much of the day.

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Safety and Bike Rodeo Teaches Healthy Habits

Child-centered activities held on Town Green on May 4.

Those children on Mill Street on Saturday, the ones in the parking lot across from the Town Green surrounded by Vienna police officers, were not being charged with a traffic violation. They were, instead, being guided around a training course by Vienna police in Vienna’s 2nd Annual W&OD Safety and Bike Rodeo sponsored by the Town of Vienna Bicycle Advisory Committee, Friends of the W&OD and local civic groups and businesses.

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Taste of Vienna Brings Community Together

Vienna Volunteer Fire Department fundraiser offered restaurant fare, live entertainment and a moonbounce for kids.

Certainly, Saturday’s almost-May weather contributed to the festive mood at the 2nd Annual Taste of Vienna sponsored by the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department. Abundant sunshine and cloudless blue skies lit up Cherry Street on April 27. Throngs of local families, seniors, teens and babies in strollers milled around food and wine tents, under eating tents and along the stage front, where contemporary pop bands performed. It was the kind of community-spirit day Vienna is known for.

Community Center Expansion Discussed

Open forum on April 23 solicited viewpoints and needs from community.

If you had an unlimited budget—or a magic wand—what would you turn the Vienna Community Center into? Most of the more-than 35 attendees at the Department of Parks and Recreation April 23 forum on the proposed expansion of the community center shared a consensus of what they hoped to see an expanded community center look like (from a large indoor swimming pool with retractable walls to a well-equipped fitness center and regulation-sized gym).

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Making Life ‘Greener’ in Vienna

Vienna Green Expo showcases community conservation options.

During the 5th Annual Vienna Green Expo on Thursday, April 18, three Vienna businesses were recognized for incorporating green practices into their business. The Vienna Town/Business Liaison Committee awarded Maple Avenue Market, Vienna Paint and Caffe Amouri with the 2013 Vienna Green Business Recognition Award.

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Vienna Woman’s Club Supports Homeless Female Veterans

Club fundraises on behalf of Final Salute, Inc.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates there are more than 13,000 homeless female veterans living in the United States; half of them are single mothers. Only about half of the 500 transitional housing programs accept women. These homeless female veterans have fewer resources than male veterans do.

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Patrick Henry Library Book Sale Draws Community

Two-day spring sale sells donated books of every genre.

t took a year of planning and collecting, approximately 15 volunteers and more than 2,000 books to carry off the spring book sale hosted by Friends of Patrick Henry Library. The two-day sale, spread over April 13 and 14, took over the front lawn, the event room and an area of the children’s department. When the book sale opened to the public at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 13, a waiting line had already formed.

Shooting for Stardom

Marshall HS vocalist/songwriter has global fans.

Remember this name: Sammy Hakim. The George C. Marshall High School junior is a finalist in the International Songwriting Competition, and holds the record for most weeks at number one on independent charts as ranked by New Music Weekly.

Prom Package Contest Makes Prom a Bit Brighter

Karin’s Florist partners with local businesses to provide prom prize valued at over $1,000.

For 56 years, Karin’s Florist has been part of the Vienna community, serving it at births, anniversaries, proms, weddings, and other special events marking a passage in life.

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Pickleberry Pie Adopts Vienna Center for Disabled Students

If you’ve never witnessed the therapeutic power of music, you’ve never seen a Pickleberry Pie-sponsored live performance for hospitalized children or disabled students. Prominent professional performers—from musicians and storytellers to animals—bring their specialties to school or hospital centers or to the hospital rooms of children too sick to leave their beds. Pickleberry Pie, a national service organization with a large network in the D.C. area, funds the performances. Most participating performers hire out at reduced rates as a public service.

New Vienna Police Chief Settles in

James “Jim” Morris comes to Vienna from 24 years with Fairfax County Police.

James “Jim” Morris comes to Vienna from 24 years with Fairfax County Police.

From Flowers to Food and Festivals

Spring’s weather may be unpredictable but what is always predictable are the many festive spring events in Vienna held year after year. Some are family-centric, some cultural... all are fun.

From Rail to Trail at Freeman Museum

Museum traces history of the railroad passing through Vienna in the 18th and 19th centuries.

“These are trains that used to be alive a long time ago. … Now, they’re abandoned, now they’re scrap.” —Five-year-old Charlie Wilkins, Reston

Fire Department Auxiliary Hosts Craft Fair, Taste of Vienna

Crafts show launches VVFD’s spring schedule of events.

Vienna Volunteer Fire Department [VVFD] hosts community-wide public events and fundraising events.