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A Glimpse At International Holiday Traditions: Day of the Dead

By Saira Athie

Yes! I love the dead… Especially when it comes dressed like a party queen, when it smells like flowers, when she invites me to eat pumpkin and to drink mescal in a table with candles.  On November 2nd of each year, families throughout Latin America, and now many in the United States, celebrate The Day of the Dead.

I celebrate the “dead” every year. I love it because of my mother Laura, taught me the tradition when I was a child, that the dead is a friend, not an enemy. “The dead likes to be invited to our house,” she used to say, ‘we must honor her’. So every November we would organize a party for that mystery woman dressed in black.

My sisters and I helped with preparations. Before the moon came out, we put out glasses with water, peppers, img_5584photographs of our most beloved people, one black dog, salt, a large tree branch and various celebration dishes such as chocolate, Tequila, yellow flowers called cempasúchil, copal incense and two very special components for the only “Dead party” celebrated in all the world: sugar skulls called “Calaveritas”, and cut paper in different colors with several figures on it.

My mom used to bake a traditional bread with a secret recipe. The bread was the “master piece” of the party: “The Dead’s Bread” (Pan de muerto), with a sugar coat, wearing thin pieces of sweet bones on the top, awaiting the arrival of midnight in the middle of the table.

None of us were permitted to eat until the next day. Despite some childhood nightmares, I love the Dead, because of “her” my two sisters and I: Laura and Paloma, used to have one of the most beautiful Mexicans traditions every year. Because of “her”, we learned the secret “Pan de Muerto”recipe. All because of that celebration called: “The day of the Dead” (El Día de Muertos). El Día de Muertos is more spectacular and colorful than any other celebration in the world, and it connects us with the ancient inhabitants of my great country: Mexico.

The Día de Muertos is a traditional and very ancient Mexican celebration from the Mesoamerican cultures. It has been celebrated for centuries on November first and second. The first day is dedicated to all the children we have lost, and the second, to the adult people that no longer live on this earth. Honoring the dead with flowers, music and dishes is a time to laugh and dance, not for crying. It is a time to remember that someday, our beloved dead ones and us, will be together again.

Saira Athie is the newest member of Team DATA and works with employee outreach and ridematching.


A Good Excuse To Party!

DATA’s third annual “party with a purpose” included plenty to enjoy and to inform!  The 2016 Live More Block Party was held September 20 at the Reston Town Center Pavilion in partnership with METRO.  With promotional support from Boston Properties, the Reston Association, and the Reston Town Center Association, the event drew more than 150 attendees over a 3-hour period.

More than 15 tabletop exhibits showcased commuting choices from vanpooling to ridesharing to biking.  Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William Counties’ transportation groups participated as did Enterprise Rideshare, METRO, and LINK among others.

New this year was the MATT (Mobile Accessible Travel Training) Bus, a Fairfax Connector bus renovated and SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESdesigned to train people how to travel safely and independently on regional transit systems.  Originally designed for senior citizens, DATA plans to utilize the MATT Bus in outreach to underserved populations through its federal-funded JARC (Job Access Reverse Commute) grant.

More than 60 people signed up for the first ever WalkAround, an untimed perambulation through the Center to promote walking.  In return, most received a WalkAround t-shirt and coupons from Town Center merchants in a logoed Fairfax County tote.  Interestingly enough, attendees continued to sign up for future walking events even after the incentives were gone.  Names gathered will be used to enlist people for the upcoming Live More Commuter Challenge.

For kids, the ever-popular face painter returned.  In addition, there were two shows by the Bob Brown Puppets, delighting not only mothers with small children but adults on their lunch break; many stopped by other exhibits after the shows.

Suggestions from the DATA staff as well as exhibitors will make the 2017 Live More Block Party an even more effective way to showcase the benefits of leaving your single occupant vehicle in the driveway and exploring commuting options.  And that’s the real purpose of our party!


Arrivederci, Lynn!

In less than two weeks, Lynn Bostain, DATA’s Director of Employer Outreach, sets sail on her next great adventure – literally.  Lynn and her awesome dog Flori depart on the Queen Mary in mid-November, realizing what was once just a dream of retiring “under the Tuscan sun.”

As a former hospitality and tourism executive, Lynn’s choice of retirement at an agriturismo (a farmhouse that also accommodates tourists) seems a natural one.  Before joining DATA in 2009, Lynn was Manager of the Washington office of the Virginia Tourism Corporation.  She later served as Meetings Marketing Manager for the Washington, DC region, where she exceeded the Governor’s goal for incoming meetings.

She has also been Sales Manager for a number of local attractions, including the Boar’s Head Inn in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Kennedy Center, and Colonial Williamsburg.

At DATA, Lynn worked directly with high profile clients like Reston Hospital Center, NRO, and Northrop Grumman to promote commuting choices that encourage employees to leave their single occupant vehicles in the driveway.  She supported efforts like DATA’s annual Live More Commuter Challenge by onsite recruitment of participants interestedfullsizerender in trying different modes from transit to telework.  Working closely with Reston Hospital Center, Lynn facilitated the fulfillment of proffer requirements for the expansion of the facility.  As DATA’s representative to the DAAMC (Dulles Airport Airline Management Council), Lynn forged a strong relationship with Airport management and with the businesses that serve the Airport and its passengers.  She formed one of DATA’s first vanpools – from Washington to Dulles – and helped several clients conduct successful employee surveys, including DATA’s E3Calc proprietary greenhouse gas calculator for business.

For years an Adjunct Professor in the Travel and Tourism Department at Northern Virginia Community College, Lynn was an Independent Tour Manager for People-to-People, organizing group travel domestically, throughout Europe and to the People’s Republic of China.

Her memberships include the Association of Meeting Professionals and the American Society of Association Executives; she is certified as a meeting professional (CMP) and a Travel Counselor (CTC).  Lynn graduated from George Washington University with a B.A. in Anthropology and completed course work in the Master’s Travel Program.

Long involved in Alexandria community activities, Lynn’s a Past President of the Seminary West Civic Association and active in WEBA (West End Business Association).

Since 1972, she’s also been a foster parent to son Conrad.

Not only DATA, but the many people whose lives she’s touched both professionally and personally will miss Lynn while wishing her well.  “Divertiti,” Lynn!



Western Fairfax – The Rise of An Innovation and Technology Center

By Gerald L. Gordon, Ph.D

This is an exciting time in western Fairfax County as it continues to mature as a community and an employment center.

Metro’s Silver Line is changing the way people live and work in Tysons Corner, and major changes are also coming to western Fairfax County as the second phase of the Silver Line is built through Reston and Herndon to Washington Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County.

These changes – creating more transit-oriented employment opportunities, shopping and housing options – will be felt before and after Silver Line construction finishes in 2019 or 2020. restonstationoffice

More than 40 percent of the office space in Fairfax County already resides in the western end of the county: Reston, Herndon, Chantilly and Centreville. Employers, many of which are in technology sectors and professional services, are drawn by the presence of the airport, the Dulles Toll Road and Route 28, a highly educated workforce, and quality-of-life assets such as a wide range of housing options and excellent public schools.

Because those assets are so strong, so is the outlook for long-term growth in western Fairfax.

Much of that growth would be concentrated near one of the Silver Line stations under construction, and much of it would be mixed-use development – in other words, a combination of office, residential, retail and institutional uses.

There are about 28 million square feet of mixed-use projects in the development pipeline for western Fairfax County. Virtually all of the proposals are close to a Silver Line station, which would make western Fairfax even more of a lure for innovative companies and the workforce they want to attract from around the Washington region.

Projects include some that are under construction, such as Reston Station that is sprouting at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station with 1.5 million square feet, including 550,000 square feet of office space, and the Reston Heights project that is adding 2.4 million square feet of mixed uses, including 1 million square feet of office space, near the Sheraton Reston Hotel.

Some projects have received approval from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, such as One Reston Town Center on Reston Parkway. It would be the tallest office building in Reston at 330 feet tall and would add 420,000 square feet of commercial space to our inventory. Developers are waiting to line up an anchor tenant for the building before construction begins.

Finally, some projects are wending their way through the county’s approval process. These include Innovation Center, which would straddle the Dulles Toll Road near Route 28 at the Innovation Station on the Silver Line. It would have 1.6 million square feet of development, including 500,000 square feet of office space.

This pipeline of development, and the location of the proposed development, is critical because western Fairfax County will continue to grow as a commercial hub thanks to the Silver Line.

A 2014 study by Transwestern, a large commercial real estate brokerage group, predicted that the Reston area will add 17,600 jobs between 2015 and 2040, and more than 60 percent of those jobs will be located within a half-mile of a Metro station.

Likewise, the Herndon area could add 20,000 jobs by 2040, the study suggests, and two-thirds of those jobs will be located within a half-mile of a rail station.

If the past is any guide, most of the growth will come from the sectors that have built the Fairfax County economy – information technology, defense and aerospace, engineering services, financial services, software and telecommunications – and from the innovative sectors of digital media, cybersecurity, data analytics and life sciences that are taking advantage of the skilled workforce and market opportunities here.

A Time magazine columnist wrote that Fairfax County “is one of the great economic success stories of our time.” The county is home to eight Fortune 500 headquarters, but it also is home to more than 150 companies on the Inc. 5000 list of fast-growing entrepreneurial businesses. Many of them are located in western Fairfax County.

A thriving, diversified employment center in western Fairfax is vitally important to furthering the economic well-being of the entire county. This builds the commercial tax base that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors uses to fund the high-quality public services that are a key part of the quality of life in the county.

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority works with companies to locate and expand in the county, to create jobs and build that commercial tax base. The FCEDA staff offers site location services, market intelligence, business development assistance, and connections with county and state government agencies.

Anyone who works or lives in western Fairfax County can attest to the dramatic transformation of the area from a farming community to one of the nation’s most dynamic business centers in barely two generations. The transportation projects underway, and the development projects under construction and on the drawing board, will help the area continue to evolve as a great place to work as well as to live.

Gerald L. Gordon, Ph.D., is president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. Visit for more information.


Holiday Festivities for the Family


23 Bull Run Festival of Lights 

November 23–January 2; Monday – Thursday: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m, Friday – Sunday  & Holidays*:  5:30-10pm  *Holidays include Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day,  Bull Run Regional Park. The Bull Run Festival of Lights is a NoVA favorite. Hop in the car and enjoy a very merry light and music show. Be advised: Fridays are one of the festival’s busiest days, so be prepared. Still, it’s one of the best days to go, as the carnival will be open until late! Bull Run Regional Park, 7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville; 703-359-4633;  For info:; Prices vary.

25 Reston Holiday Parade, Tree Lighting, and Sing Along rtc-reston-holiday-parade-lr099

11:00am–10:00pm; Reston Town Center. Reston Town Center launches the festive season at the 26th annual Reston Holiday Parade at 11:00 a.m. with Macy’s-style balloons, musicians, dancers, antique cars, characters, community groups, dignitaries, special guest emcees, and much more. The one-of-a-kind, one-hour, half-mile parade along Market Street also welcomes the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus in a horse-drawn carriage. Since 1991, rain or shine, the parade has been an annual tradition on the day after Thanksgiving.  Before the parade begins, thousands of jingle bells will be handed out to spectators lining the route. After the parade, enjoy visits and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus plus Mini-Train rides until 4:30 pm, and street entertainment. The Clauses will return for the Fountain Square Tree Lighting and Sing Along at 6 pm. Afterwards, there’ll be horse-drawn carriage rides on Market Street from 6:30 until 10 pm. Proceeds from the photos and rides benefit local charities. The acclaimed Ice Skating Pavilion is open all day and every day from November until March.  Phone: 703-579-6720

25 Christmas at Mount Vernon 

Friday, November 25 – Friday, January 6; 9:00am–4:00pm; George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens. Mount Vernon has decked the halls for the holiday season and invites you to celebrate this festive time of year with a special daytime program offered through January 6!

Visit George Washington’s estate and see Aladdin the camel on the grounds, in honor of the camel that Washington paid to have visit Mount Vernon in 1787. Stroll through the estate during the Christmas season and see sparkling holiday decorations, featuring 12 dazzling Christmas trees, and historical chocolate-making demonstrations. Experience Christmas how the Washington’s would have celebrated it on a tour of the Mansion. Go behind-the-scenes and tour the rarely-open third floor of the Mansion.  3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy, Mount Vernon, VA 22309. Phone: 703-780-2000; Admission Fee: $17/adults; $8 child.


1 National Christmas Tree and State Trees

Ellipse in Washington, D.C. The National Park Foundation and National Park Service will present the 94th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting. Popular entertainers and a United States military band add to the celebratory evening when the President of the United States lights the National Christmas Tree and brings a message of peace to the nation and world. To learn more about the National Christmas Tree Lighting and December events at the National Christmas Tree, please visit

The National Christmas Tree will be illuminated every night through January 1. The Pathway of Peace around the National Christmas Tree is free and open to visitors 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily through January 1. The pathway loops around the National Christmas Tree and features 56 unique Christmas trees and ornament displays representing every U.S. state, territory, and the District of Columbia.  Located on the Ellipse on Constitution Avenue side of the White House.  Though January 1, 2017.

2 Christmas in Middleburg 

Friday, December 2 – Sunday, December 4; Downtown. Festivities begin with the Tree Lighting Ceremony and Carols, behind the Pink Box, 12 North Madison St., 5:00pm on Friday. Starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday, the Middleburg Hunt takes to the streets creating a spectacular sight as approximately 100 horses, riders in red coats and dozens of hounds come through the town. The Middleburg Christmas Parade begins at 2 p.m. as spectators line the sidewalks along Washington Street (Route 50) to watch as a unique assortment of floats, troops and bands march by in a mile-long parade. In keeping with the animal friendliness of the town, the parade includes over 700 horses, llamas, alpacas and dogs. Not to be missed are the antique fire trucks, children on floats, and of course, Santa brings up the rear riding on a beautiful horse drawn coach. Through the day there are hayrides, choir performances, the Garden Club’s Christmas Flower & Greens Show and the Craft Show as well as shopping and dining in the town’s shops and restaurants, creating a day-long family festival for visitors. A Wine Crawl is the final element, allowing adults to wind down and relax while sampling wines from area vineyards, and foods in local restaurants.  On Sunday, December 4, enjoy the Christmas Pageant at Foxcroft School featuring live animals, a 100-year old tradition!  Admission is free. Phone: 540-687-8888.  Visit for more info.

2 Merry Old Town: Manassas Christmas Tree Lighting 

5:30pm–8:00pm; Manassas Museum Lawn. Make time to enjoy old-fashioned family fun at the “Merry Old Town” celebration in Old Town Manassas! The holiday fun begins at 5:30 p.m. with holiday music and at 6:00 p.m. when Santa arrives at the Manassas Depot via VRE train.

The Annual Christmas Tree Lighting will be at 6:30 at the Manassas Museum. Take a free hayride around Old Town and go for a skate at the Harris Pavilion ice rink. Of course, Santa will hear the Christmas wishes of all the children at the Harris Pavilion gazebo. 9101 Prince William Street.  Free admission.

2 Town of Leesburg Christmas Tree and Menorah Lighting

6:00pm; Town Green. Join friends and neighbors and celebrate the start of the holiday season in Leesburg at the annual Christmas Tree and Menorah Lighting Ceremony on the Town Green. The festive ceremony will feature performances from local schools and a holiday message. The crowd will be encouraged to join in on a holiday sing-a-long and view the lighting of the Christmas tree
and menorah.

3 Herndon Annual Tree Lighting and Sing-Along

5:00pm–6:00pm; Town of Herndon Town Square. Start the holiday season with this annual celebration. Carols, tree lighting, and a visit from Santa. Corner of Lynn and Elden Streets, Herndon. Sponsored by the Dulles Regional Chamber. 730 Elden Street. Phone: 571-323-5301. Free admission.


3 Merry Old Town: 71st Annual Greater Manassas Christmas Parade

10:00am–12:00pm; Historic Downtown. Free parking for the parade is available in the parking garage on the corner of Prince William St. and Main St. There is also timed parking available on the street. Handicapped parking is available in the BB&T parking lot located on Center Street and the 7-11 parking lot located at the corner of Grant and Center Street. Free admission.  Rain or shine. Visit for details, including parade route.

3 Holiday Fine Arts and Crafts Show at Ida Lee Recreation Center

9:00am-4:00pm and December 4th, 10:00am-4:00pm; No big-box shopping here! This show features over 90 local and regional artisans selling hand-made items including candles, stained glass, carved wood, jewelry, leather products, table linens, and much more. Find something for everyone on your shopping list and a little something to brighten your home this season. Admission and parking for this show are free.

4 Herndon Holiday Arts and Crafts Show 

10:00am-4:00pm; Herndon Community Center. Over 80 artisans and craftspeople will exhibit and sell their work at this annual arts and crafts show sponsored by the Town of Herndon Department of Parks and Recreation. A variety of handcrafted items and fine art will be on sale including wreaths, quilts, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, decorations, original artwork, photography, stained glass, and more. 814 Ferndale Ave., Herndon, VA. Free admission and parking. Additional parking at the Herndon Centennial Golf Course.

10 Annual Leesburg Christmas and Holiday Parade 

6:00pm; On the second Saturday of December, the holiday spirit will be in full swing as Leesburg hosts the annual holiday parade starting at 6pm. The parade will usher Santa and his friends down King Street, through Historic Leesburg. The parade will begin at Ida Lee Drive and end at Fairfax Street. Parade participation is open to the public, including businesses, civic groups, teams, organizations, and community groups. For more information, call 703.777.1368 or visit