Downtowner DC: Panda Cub Named, Turkeys Pardoned


Help for Restaurant That Fed Neediest

For the past five years, Sakina Halal Grill, at 1108 K St. NW, has had an open-door policy for the unsheltered, permitting them to sit down for a free meal. Owner Kazi Mannan has estimated that he’s served more than 20,000 free meals. However, due to the pandemic, Mannan almost had to close his doors for good. In a final effort to stay in business, he launched a GoFundMe campaign that, as of Nov. 18, has raised over $237,000 toward a $250,000 goal.

ZooLights Is on the Move

This year, the annual ZooLights festival presented by the Smithsonian’s National Zoo (and “powered by Pepco”) won’t be at the Connecticut Avenue park. Instead, the tradition is happening with a pandemic twist: a 24-foot ZooLights Express truck is visiting all the wards of the city. Expect to see the truck in Ward 5 this Friday, Dec. 11, and in Ward 6 on Saturday, Dec. 12. The mobile event goes to Ward 7 on Friday, Dec. 18, and wraps up on Saturday, Dec. 19, in Ward 8.

Giant Panda Cub Gets a Name

Speaking of the National Zoo, the cub born on Aug. 21 to giant panda Mei Xiang finally has a name. The zoo held a naming contest for the little cub, a boy, and nearly 135,000 votes were submitted to choose among five possibilities. The name that was chosen was Xiao Qi Ji (pronounced She-ow Chee Jee), which means “little miracle” in Mandarin Chinese. The cub, who took his first steps over Thanksgiving weekend, can be viewed online via the zoo’s Giant Panda Cam.

Turkey-Pardoning Tradition Honored

In a refreshing sense of comfort and routine, the annual presidential turkey pardon took place before Thanksgiving. Fortunate gobblers Corn and Cob stayed overnight in the Willard Hotel before they were pardoned by President Donald Trump. The National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation began in 1947 with former President Harry Truman. According to WUSA9, the first president to actually grant an official pardon was George H.W. Bush, in 1989.

Outdoor Dining Options Multiply

D.C.-area restaurants are getting creative with outdoor dining. Ted’s Bulletin has installed “snow globes” — plastic bubbles in which diners can enjoy their “Ted’s Tarts” while staying warm. The globes are available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. Other restaurants have put a price on outdoor comfort. Hook Hall on Georgia Avenue is charging $125 for a Viking-themed hut with a bottle of champagne, heaters and retractable curtains, Washingtonian magazine reported.

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