11 Reasons Every Parent Should Add Williamsburg, VA, To Their Summer Plans

boy zipline williamsburg vaWilliamsburg is in the “buzz.” Buzzfeed.com, that is. I couldn’t agree more with this popular site’s advice for parents: Bring your kids to Williamsburg for a great vacation!

Check out 11 Reasons Every Parent Should Add Williamsburg, VA, To Their Summer Plans for your self and see what all the buzz is about.

Grand Illumination at Colonial Williamsburg is Dec. 6, 2015

Fireworks at the Grand Illumination, Colonial Williamsburg, VA 2012

Fireworks at the Grand Illumination, Colonial Williamsburg, VA 2012

I love Christmas and am so lucky to live in Williamsburg. We celebrate it in many wonderful ways. My favorite is Grand Illumination, which happens on the first Sunday of December each year. I like to start the day shopping in Merchant Square, followed by a late-afternoon walk through the historic area when the sun is low in the sky and illuminating the old brick and gorgeous door decorations in soft winter light.

Here’s 2015 schedule of events for Grand Illumination, Colonial Williamsburg.

Then I enjoy dinner in one of the taverns with friends and family as we wait for the fife and drum parade … and the grand finale of amazing fireworks. It’s Colonial Williamsburg’s best gift to the community and they do it well. See you there!

Get your Bruce Hornsby tickets TODAY

News from 92.3 FM  The Tide:

Get your Bruce Hornsby tickets TODAY  Bruce Hornsby returns home to Williamsburg for a special concert at the Lake Matoaka Amphitheater on Thursday, May 21 to celebrate 10 years of 92.3FM The Tide. General ticket sales start this Friday, but presale starts at 10 a.m. today. The special promo code for presale tickets is “ilovethetide“. Grab your tickets today before they’re gone and help celebrate 10 years of great music in the Historic Triangle. Get your tickets here. Read what Bruce Hornsby has to say about the show by clicking here.

I wouldn’t dream of missing this concert given by such a talented Williamsburg native! I’ve got my tickets – see you at the lake!

Habitat for Humanity – One of Many Blessings in Williamsburg, VA

Congratulations to the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, which serves Hampton, James City County, Newport News, Williamsburg, York County and Poquoson. According to today’s article in the Virginia Gazette, this nonprofit organization has built, renovated or repaired more than 250 houses in our area since it was founded in 1985. It was recently chosen for a $100,000 grant over all Habitat chapters nationwide!

It’s reassuring to know that in our beautiful and  affluent area, many people care about providing shelter for families in need. Thank you to all of the volunteers, corporate sponsors, churches, and governing bodies who worked together to make these dreams come true for so many families.

Sign Up for W.A.L.T. Classes – Fall Registration Opened Sept 6, 2014

The Williamsburg Area Learning Tree (WALT) is a a not-for-profit education program covering a wide range of topics. Williamsburg is rich with people who know a lot about a lot of subjects, whether they’re associated with the College of William and Mary, local businesses, or are retired from careers covering every conceivable subject.  Check out their catalog and find something you’ve always wanted to learn about: http://www.wuu.org/walt/courseindexFall2014.php

More Evidence of America’s First Black School in Williamsburg

The College of William and Mary was the first college in America involved in the education of black students. Historians knew of written references to a black school for many years, but until 2010, we didn’t know exactly where the school stood. In case you missed the previous story from July 23, 2010, the frame structure believed to have housed the school still stands: Oldest Surviving Schoolhouse for African Americans Discovered on William and Mary Campus.

Archaeologists discover more evidence of first black school in America at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA

Photo by Joe Fudge, Daily Press

Now, archaeologists have discovered evidence of the school’s kitchen and another outbuilding, with more than a dozen slate pencil stubs. The complete story is posted at the Daily Press:  Remnants from a pioneering black school unearthed in Williamsburg.

I agree with historian Julie Richter’s comment that Williamsburg has always been a special place:

The more you look into the evidence, the more you see how different and unusual a place Williamsburg was compared to the surrounding countryside,” Richter says, citing records that show the owners of the Bray School students buying slate pencils and spelling books at the town’s printing office.

I think it’s likely that a lot of enslaved blacks in Williamsburg could read. They lived and worked in a town filled with words — and those words shaped their lives in ways you don’t see in other places.

If only we could know more about the lives of those enslaved students and if any of them attained freedom. I look forward to following this ongoing story.

Fireworks and 4th of July Schedule at Colonial Williamsburg

The most common question I get this time of year is, “what time do the fireworks start?”  Not until well after the sun sets – 9:20 p.m. Colonial Williamsburg posted this schedule for 4th of July events  and you can get pricing for the special meals they’re offering on their site.

10 a.m. Salute to the States behind the Courthouse
Noon A Declaration of Independence at the Courthouse
4–7:30 p.m. Independence Day Celebration: Food,
Fanfare & Fireworks
Casual come-and-go evening at the Williamsburg Lodge
Reservations required
5:30–7 p.m. Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums Perform on Market Square
5–9 p.m. Historic Tavern dining available
Reservations required
8–9:30 p.m. Virginia Symphony Orchestra performs in front of the Governor’s Palace
Reservations required for exclusive seating
9:20 p.m. Fireworks begin
Fireworks at the Grand Illumination, Colonial Williamsburg, VA 2012

Fireworks at the Grand Illumination, Colonial Williamsburg, VA 2012

The second most common question is “where should we park?” Well, the locals know some clever spots, but truly, we’re in the same situation as you. The least stressful plan for out-of-towners  is to park at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center and ride the shuttle busses. It’s not glamorous, but the drivers will get you there and then, you won’t spend an hour on Lafayette Street or Richmond Road or Francis Street trying to get back to the interstate.

Yes, it’s worth it!  Each year I go, I’m impressed at the fine show Colonial Williamsburg gives us. See you there!

The Psychological Chicanery of Eric Dobell

Williamsburg Native readers are well aware of the excellent resources at our award-winning Williamsburg Regional Library, so the wonderful musical and theatrical programs offered there are no surprise. However, an unusual program at 7:00 p.m. on April 4, 2013 may raise an eyebrow, and is certain to produce some good laughs. And it’s free, thanks to the Library’s sponsorship.

As his web site explains:

Erik Dobell can read minds… really.

This is because Erik Dobell is a Mentalist. A Mentalist is someone who uses psychology and chicanery to create the illusions of psychic powers. Body language, sleight of hand, suggestion and good ole’ fashion lies are Erik’s tools of the trade. With a mastery of these techniques Erik can perform such feats as:

  • Read the inner thoughts of your audience.
  • Cause solid objects to bend and move in the hands of complete strangers
  • Perform impossible predictions with your president, CEO or other guests of honor.

Erik Dobell isn’t psychic, but it’ll seem that way.

Erik Dobell, Mentalist

Chalk Festival at New Town

Chalk street drawing, New Town Festival, Williamsburg, VA There were several good entries in the Chalk Festival, most of them not 100% done as of 3:30 today. My favorite was Holly Winslow’s little red airplane, which looked 3-dimensional when viewed through a smart phone camera. There were activities for kids, good music, and about 10 vendors. Stop by around 5:00 to see the finished drawings.


Virginia Landscapes: Four Artists, Four Visions

Duck Blind - Bacon Marsh, by Edwin Green

Duck Blind – Bacon Marsh, by Edwin Green

It’s well worth a visit to Prince George Art & Frame at 107 Colony Square on Jamestown Road to see the works of four local artists. Their landscapes are in different media and different styles, with fresh perspectives and interesting techniques. I enjoyed chatting with two of the artists, Ray Abell and Brian Kelly. Owner-artist Fred Miller’s own digitally enhanced photos were on display, which is always a treat. Thanks, Fred, for creating a welcoming environment for artists and art lovers.