Downtown Observer Oct. 19, 2011

Celebrate Halloween With Some Culture

Day of the Dead / Los Días de los Muertos, a Mexican custom honoring and remembering those who have died, begins on midnight on Oct. 31, the night of Halloween. At the National Museum of the American Indian from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1, they will hold a festival that includes live entertainment and hands-on craft activities including demonstrations of traditional papel picado (“cut paper work”), Sugar Skulls, Ofrenda (“Altar” or “offering”) featuring Guatemalan kites, paper sculpture and paper mache. Across the river at the Torpedo Factor in Alexandria on Oct. 29 from 8 to 11 p.m., there will be a costume dance party including music, dancing, a costume contest, miniature altar project and bubble gum painting.

Running For Office May Have Gotten Easier

There are hundreds of empty seats on D.C. city commissions. Nearly one in every seven of the city’s boards and commissions that help run the District’s business sits empty more than nine months into the new mayoral administration as few resources have been funneled to the massive effort, according to the Washington Examiner.

Just one full-time employee staffs the city’s Office of Boards and Commissions, which is responsible for finding and vetting the mayor’s nominations to the city’s more than 150 boards and commissions. “I walked into an administration where the previous administration had left a large number of board seats unfilled,” Ron Collins, the office’s director, told the Examiner.

Some boards, essential to conducting the business of serving city residents, remain empty. Most recently, the council extended the Oct. 1 deadline to form the new Real Property Tax Appeals Commission, which hears and makes decisions on taxpayer appeals. Members of the former appeals board were granted a service extension.

The new board was pushed for last year by then-Mayor-elect Vincent Gray, who has created full-time and part-time salaried positions to professionalize the board. However, the new requirements also make it harder to fill seats on the board.

For example, commissioners must be licensed appraisers. But, according to the Appraisal Institute’s database, there are only 130 MAI-certified appraisers in the D.C. area.

There’s No Where to Hide

Adverse to parking tickets? Then you better watch out: the District Department of Public Works is now taking photographs of some parking infractions that led to tickets. It’s called evidence. The agency is using TicPix, a tool that allows drivers to see images of an alleged violation online 72 hours after a ticket is issued, and up to 90 days afterward. TicPix could help reduce and resolve disputes over parking tickets, of which DPW wrote 1.5 million in fiscal 2010. Images will not be posted for more than a dozen violations, including overtime at a meter, snow regulation and excessive idling.

Celebrate LGBTQ Community With ARace

The DC Drag Queen Race is one of the Washington, D.C. area’s more unique Halloween events. Each year on the Tuesday before Halloween, thousands of spectators flock to Dupont Circle to watch costumed drag queens show off their elaborate outfits and race down 17th Street. The informal block party lasts a few hours and attracts a diverse crowd. Join the crowd on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 6 p.m., on 17th Street between P and S Streets, N.W.

Any Animal Lovers Out There? This Show Is For You.

The Washington International Horse Show is a championship event with approximately 600 horses and riders competing for more than $400,000 in prize money and championship titles. Highlights of the event include adrenaline-fueled show jumpers, dancing dressage horses, classic equitation, picture-perfect hunters and action-packed barrel races and humorous terrier races. This year, the opening night trainers party will be held at Zaytinya on Tuesday evening and on Wednesday evening, there will be a welcome party at Oyamel Cocina Mexicana. The show lasts from Oct. 25 through 30 at the Verizon Center and generally go from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. with tickets ranging from $15 to $70. VIP seats include premium arena-level seating and a complimentary WIHS program book. Visit for more information.

No More Worries About Being Mugged While Adding Money

Adding money to your SmarTrip card just got easier. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority now allows customers to reload their SmarTrip cards via the Internet. All you need is a registered SmarTrip card and a SmarTrip account on Metro’s website -- The system accepts all major credit cards, and transactions are completed once you touch your card to a Metrorail fare gate, vending machine or bus fare box. You must, however, allow up to one business day for the money to be transferred when using the fare gate or vending machine, and up to three business days at the bus fare box. Well, two out of three ain’t bad: you can avoid using cash and standing in line. Have questions? Call 888-762-7874 for more information.

Run, Run, Run!

The Marine Corps Marathon, the annual race known as the “The People’s Marathon” brings together runners from all walks of life to participate in a patriotic race and a day of family-friendly activities on Oct. 30 at 7:50 a.m. The traditional Marine Corps Marathon course is 26.2 miles and a 10K race also allows runners of all ages to join in a shorter 6.2-mile event. The race field is limited to 30,000 participants and is expected to fill up quickly. An $88 registration fee includes all race materials, bib, mock neck participant shirt, goodie bag, a three month subscription to Runners World, courtesy of Saturn and single use souvenir commemorative chip. Runners will also receive a free subscription to the online virtual trainer, designed by Olympian Jeff Galloway. Participants will opt-in for daily or weekly emails featuring training tips to achieve a variety of finish time goals, plus health, fitness and nutrition messages. The weekend includes additional events including a Health and Fitness Expo, the Healthy Kids Fun Run, Crystal Run (a festival in Crystal City) and the Marine Corps Marathon Finish Festival.

Readers Can Still Get Books for Free on Sunday

Forget about Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library (901 G St., N.W.) being shuttered on Sundays because of fiscal 2012 budgetary concerns. In the 11th hour, the city announced that funding will be available to keep the library open seven days a week, as it has continuously operated since 1972, the year it opened. Sunday hours are 1 to 5 p.m. For more about the library, visit Bustling Downtown Adds More Bustle

A lot is coming to downtown retail. Opening this month: Anthropologie (950 F St.), the women’s apparel and accessory chain; Le Pain Quotidien (975 F St.), the casual French eatery and Corner Bakery Café (777 6th S.), offering hearth-baked breads, sandwiches, salads, soups and home-style sweets. By year’s end Leica Camera will join Le Pain Quotidien in the Carroll Square building and Seaton Benkowski & Partners. Both retailers have signed 10-year leases, filling the last available retail bays in the building, now 100 percent leased. Leica’s boutique — the company’s first stand-alone store in the country — will include a product showroom, image gallery, and a studio.

Jimmy John’s to Open This Fall Downtown

Jimmy John’s (1101 14th St.), the sub franchise, will open this fall, as will The Federalist (1177 15th St.), which will be located in the Madison Hotel and serving up dishes inspired by 18th century American food lovers. In addition, Caldo (300 Massachusetts Ave.), an Italian restaurant, plans to open in the Mass Court apartment building. No word yet on a date. Already up and running: Hard Times Café, the award-winning chili and wings eatery that opened as a concession stand in the Verizon Center (601 F St.) last month.

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