The Mary Thonen Highway Beautification Awards

PurposeHow to Participate | Why Participate | JudgingCompetition Timeline | Past Winners |


This annual award program is presented by the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation (SFDC) to recognize local establishments for their outstanding contributions to Richmond Highway beautification in the form of landscape improvements. This annual award was named to honor a community champion and long-serving board member, the late Mary Thonen.

While SFDC and Fairfax County have improved the highway’s center medians, it is the responsibility of the establishment owners to care for their own landscaping.  Attractive landscaping serves the purpose of attracting consumers to individual establishments and betters the visual appeal of the highway as a whole.

How to Participate

Any establishment that is visible from Richmond Highway is able to participate in the competition; this includes, but is not limited to: restaurants, apartment/condominium complexes, shopping centers, specialty stores, etc.  Although the SFDC has already built up a robust list of participants, we may have accidentally missed a few! Please feel free to submit your establishment (or check to see if you’re already in the running) by emailing us:

Why Participate

The better question is, why not participate?  By doing a bit of routine maintenance and keeping your establishment looking nice, you have the chance to be rewarded  without any additional cost to you!  Compete to win first place, second place, or for an honorable mention and  gain the valuable public exposure that comes with it.  Each year, after the winners have been selected, we announce the results to the press, and then throw a big party to celebrate the competition with the community!


Who judges?

The M-CAPT (Marketing, Community Appearance, Planning, Transportation) Committee is responsible for judging the competition’s participants. The M-CAPT Committee is composed of a team of dedicated volunteers who are also members of the community.   Learn more about the M-CAPT Committee.

Judging Factors:

  • General aesthetics of the plantings and/ or accent materials (e.g. benches, fountains, trim, etc.)
  • Well-maintained/ groomed throughout the year (e.g. litter monitoring, re-planting, plant trimming,etc.)


Competition Timeline

June/ July: Photos are taken of each of the competing establishments to be judged by the M-CAPT Committee

August-October: M-CAPT Committee selects winners

November: Winners receive notification

December/January: SFDC hosts an Open House and Mary Thonen Highway Beautification Awards Ceremony to publicly announce, award, and celebrate the year’s winners!

2016 Winners
Congratulations to the 2016 Mary Thonen Richmond Highway Beautification Award recipients!

First Place: City Side Apartments at Huntington
Second Place: Cherry Arms Apartments
Third Place: Cooper Center

Click here to view the 2016 Mary Thonen Richmond Highway Beautification Award Winners!