Clear skies and sunny summer weather accompanied crowds to the fourth annual Clarendon Day, an annual festival organized by the Clarendon Alliance.
Free Metro rides made the festival even more accessible, and people got off at the Clarendon stop on the Orange line to enjoy the plethora of culinary, musical and artistic tastes the area has to offer.
Joel Dabu, an American Studies major, is the assistant director for the Clarendon Alliance, a public-private partnership that promotes the health and vitality of the Clarendon area in Arlington, Va.
Dabu, who transferred to GW in the spring of his sophomore year, said hearing of the alliance was a coincidence.
Last August, he was running in the area and noticed the office when he passed it. He said he thought it would be a good place for him to volunteer because he has an interest in urban planning.
The next day he called the alliance and made an appointment with the director, Tom Fairchild, to see if he could intern there.
After five months working as an intern, Dabu was promoted to assistant director.
Clarendon Day occurs on the second Saturday of every October. It has carried various names in the past, including Taste of Clarendon and Clarendon Cookin’.
This year’s all-day festival last Saturday featured a tribute to the Arlington Police Department and Arlington fire and rescue squads for their efforts at the Pentagon. Fundraising at the event went toward the relief efforts of the Arlington county chapter of the American Red Cross.
Not until the 2000 Clarendon Day did the festival explode into an enormous event, Dabu said. In 1999, the event only took over one street instead of the many that close for it now. He attributes the increased popularity to a poster campaign.
Dabu said his intense involvement with Clarendon Day this year was also an accident. Fairchild’s father died in the middle of the preparations, and Dabu took over to keep the event on its feet. The Sept. 11 attacks also put everything at a standstill, he said.
“I delved into (the preparations),” he said. “I wouldn’t say I ran the show, but I got the preparations going.”
A lot of effort went into putting together an event that closed off segments of six main streets in the Clarendon area. The alliance needed to get street, alcohol and health permits.
“It’s like planning a wedding but 20 times bigger,” Dabu said.
The alliance also gets in touch with business owners to put together various elements of the festival, including bands, food vendors, artists, authors, skateboarders and antique sellers.
“We know the heads of businesses in the area, and we get them to contact other people who may be interested in participating,” Dabu said.
As hectic as the last few weeks were for Dabu with organizing a large-scale festival and juggling his schoolwork, he said he enjoys his job. The variety of problems he works on keeps him on his toes, and he does not get bored, he said.
“I would have to say I skipped more classes than I needed to,” he said. “But the festival was an urgent thing, and it needed to be addressed, so it doesn’t collapse.”
Dabu said he feels the festival’s goals of uniting the community in pride was achieved successfully.
“The businesses did really well, and people who attended went away happy,” he said.
Dabu said the GW community should realize that D.C. is only one aspect of this vast metropolitan area, and he encourages students to take advantage of the opportunities in Virginia and Maryland.
“There is more to the D.C. area than Foggy Bottom,” he said.
photos by Cindy Lisco/Hatchet photographer