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Issue 142

Wednesday, November 23, 2021

Prince William County

Dear Neighbors,

As I look over this year's annual Holiday Guide, it is clear that Prince William County knows how to embrace the holiday season. With the number and variety of events, you and your family are sure to find things to put on your calendar. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a fun transition into the many festivities throughout the County.

In Service,

Chair Ann Wheeler

Helpful Tips

For those cooking and/or having out of town guests, if you are:

Thursday, November 24, and Friday, November 25, in observance of Thanksgiving:

  • PWC Government offices, including the courts, will be closed.
  • All PWC Public Libraries will be closed.

The County Landfill and Balls Ford Road Compost Facility will be:

  • Closed Thursday, November 24.
  • Open normal operating hours of 6:00 am to 6:00 pm, Friday, November 25.

If you are sending letters or packages, you'll want to check out the websites below to know key dates and other information.

Ways to Give Back

Small Business Saturday

Saturday, November 26, is Small Business Saturday. PWC is home to 1000s of small businesses. Unfortunately, many small businesses have faced challenging times the last few years with the pandemic and supply chain snags. This may be the perfect year to start holiday shopping at your local small businesses.  

To locate and learn more about the wide variety of great small businesses in our County you can go to the:

Tuesday, November 22, the BOCS proclaimed Saturday, November 26 Small Business Saturday. Christina Winn, Executive Director of the PWC Department of Economic Development (left in photo), thanked the Board for the proclamation on behalf of the more than 9,000 small businesses in the County. The four PWC small businesses below (left to right in photo), all recipients of PWC's Restore Retail Grant (issue 94), accepted the proclamation.

The PWC Department of Economic Development, through the PWC Industrial Development Authority, has awarded over 350 PWC small businesses more than $5 million through the Restore Retail Grant Program (issue 137). The $6 million Restore Retail Grant Program, funded by the Board from the County’s allotted $91.4 million federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), is accepting applications through December 2022, or until funds are exhausted. You can learn more about the program and how to apply here.  

Giving Tuesday

Tuesday, November 29, is Giving Tuesday. Created in 2012, what started as a simple idea of a day where people are encouraged to do good, has grown into a global movement. Participating is easy! Whether you give your voice, goods, time, or money, being generous is a way to help people in need. Be on the lookout for donation match opportunities from organizations and businesses. Learn ways to get involved here.  

Wreaths Across America

The 2022 Wreaths Across America at Quantico National Cemetery will take place on Saturday, December 17, and Sunday, December 18. National Wreaths Across America's mission is to Remember, Honor and Teach by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 3,400 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad. Visit the virtual Remember Wall to read over 4700 recent posts made by event supporters and sponsors of a wreath in honor of or in memory of an American hero.

You can support the event by:

If you have a grave specific request or any questions, please email NOVAVETS.WAA@Novavets.Org.


Volunteer Prince William's annual Untrim-a-Tree program provides two gifts to local children valued at up to $75 per child. It also provides baskets for homebound seniors with things like card games, crossword puzzles, hand cream, warm socks, lap throws or wraps.

To get involved, you can:

The Salvation Army of Prince William County provides much-needed emergency services to families every day. It has kicked off its holiday season and below you will find several different opportunities to get involved!

The U. S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots is underway through Friday, December 23. To participate, drop off a new and unwrapped toy at:

You can also donate monetarily to the local campaign here.

Toys for Tots started in 1947. You can read the interesting story behind its origins and how it got the three-train car logo in issue 43.

Getting into the Holiday Spirit

Friday, November 25, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center in Woodbridge is hosting its annual Tree Lighting. Activities for the whole family includes free carriage rides when you donate a canned good, face painting, ice carving, family photos, as well as performances by Those Funny Little People and the New Dominion Choraliers.

Saturday, November 26, from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm, is opening night for Rocking Around the Boardwalk: Holiday Walk at the Neabsco Creek Boardwalk in Woodbridge. The magical walking path of hand-crafted light displays will be open every Friday and Saturday, 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm, through Saturday, December 31. The free event requires no registration.

Friday, December 2, at 5:15 pm, Santa Lights Manassas will take place in Old Town Manassas. The magic begins with holiday musical performances and then Santa arrives shortly after 6:00 pm for the tree lighting. Then Santa and Mrs. Claus will greet children to hear their holiday wishes. Families can enjoy free wagon rides to get into the holiday spirit. The Harris Pavilion Ice Rink will be open for business as well as the downtown shops and restaurants. Find out all the details and information on attending here.

Saturday, December 3, at 10:00 am, is the 76th annual Greater Manassas Christmas Parade, ‘Hometown Christmas,' this year. One of the largest holiday parades in Northern Virginia, the two-hour parade will have over 100 units including marching bands, floats, high-flying balloons, and more. There will be approximately 2,000 participants and over 300 volunteers. You can view the parade route and information on attending here.

Saturday, December 3, 9:30 am to 3:00 pm, the PWC Holiday Market will be at Pfitzner Stadium located at 7 County Complex Court in Woodbridge. There will be Hot foods, drinks, sweets, baked goods, produce, apples, jewelry, soaperie, clothing, books, woodwork, leatherwork, and many more specialty items. You can find a list of the large number of participating vendors here (scroll down).

Saturday, December 3, 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Sunday, December 4, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, Occoquan Holiday Market will be at River Mill Park in Occoquan. Artisans and craft persons will offer original, handmade work in a full range of media. Items include handmade bath and body products, candles, gourmet food products, home decor, fine art, jewelry, and more. Concerts are scheduled both days, and Santa will be ready for a singalong and a visit with families at the top of the hour from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm both days.

Saturday, December 3, 9:30 am to 11:00 am, at the Holiday Market, you can also enter 4th annual Occoquan Gingerbread House competition. Find out everything you need to know about the competition and how to enter for the chance to win $50 in gift cards here.

Saturday, December 10, is the opening day of the Holiday Tree Display (event #2) at the Neabsco Creek Boardwalk in Woodbridge. In addition to the unique display of decorated trees, the opening day will include holiday music and a selfie station. The opening day ninety-minute time slots run from 10:30 am to 4:00 pm. Your winter finest, including ugly holiday sweaters, are encouraged. The opening day event is free, however, due to its popularity, registration is highly recommended. The trees will be on display through Saturday, December 31.

Saturday, December 10, and Monday, December 12, 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm meet Santa, the jolliest elf in town, at the National Museum of the Marine Corps! Holiday-themed activities and crafts will be available while waiting to meet St. Nick. Photos with Santa are available on both dates. Guests must provide their own camera. All families must be in line by 3:15 pm to ensure a photo with Santa. This event is FREE and open to the public. Learn more here.

The Hylton Performing Arts Center has curated such a fantastic line-up of holiday performances this year, you are sure to find one (or more) must-see events! Use the links below to learn more about the performances, showtimes, and purchase tickets.

Historical Themed Events

If history is your thing, then PWC Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism has plenty of holiday themed programs for you to enjoy. Use the program title links below to learn more about the program, when it is offered, and register. 

Rippon Lodge Historic Site

  • Friday, December 2 through Friday, December 23, on select days, Holidays Through the Ages will provide an in-depth exploration of season festivities over the centuries. Interiors and exteriors will be richly decorated for the holidays to help you get into the holiday spirit.
  • Friday, December 2, and Saturday, December 3, enjoy the ambiance of the season at Holidays Evenings. These special evening tours include music and period lights inside the historic home and along the grounds making for great holiday photo opportunities.
  • Saturday, December 10, 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm, Santa Comes to Rippon Lodge. Parents will be given special “Things Santa Should Know” cards to fill out upon arrival. Bring your camera for pictures and dress appropriately for weather as some activities are outside. This is a popular event and registration is required.

Bristoe Battlefield Heritage Park

Saturday, December 3, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, Christmas in a Civil War Camp will show how soldiers spent the holidays away from family. Living history demonstrations and a visit from Civil War Santa Claus will accompany each tour. Nineteenth-century Christmas crafts will be available for children.

Ben Lomond Historic Site

Saturday, December 10, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, Christmas Traditions in the Back of the Big House, is a unique program that will explore the lesser-know world of what this holiday was like for enslaved men and women living on nineteenth-century southern plantations and farms. 

Brentsville Courthouse

Saturday, December 10, 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm, experience the holidays of years past in each of the historic buildings decorated for the holidays at Historic Holidays and Christmas Concert. Learn how locals celebrated the holidays and enjoyed the winter weather through crafts and activities. Have some hot cider as you enjoy a musical performance by the Brentsville District High School Choir. Santa will also make an appearance so bring your cameras for photos. This program is free and doesn't have registration.

Special Dates

Advent and Christmas

Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ and is observed primarily on Sunday, December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is preceded by the season of Advent (issue 94) from Sunday, November 27 to Saturday December 24, or the Nativity Fast for Eastern Orthodox churches, and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night.

As recounted in the New TestamentJesus was born in Bethlehem, in accordance with messianic prophecies. When Joseph and Mary arrived in the city, the inn had no room and so they were offered a stable where the Christ Child was soon born, with angels proclaiming this news to shepherds who then spread the word.


Hanukkah, the Jewish eight-day “festival of lights,” begins at nightfall on Sunday, December 18, and ends at nightfall, Monday, December 26. The Hebrew word Hanukkah means “dedication,” and celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, during which a one-day supply of oil for the Menorah lasted eight days.

The festival is observed by lighting the candles of a candelabrum with nine branches, called a menorah (or hanukkiah). One candle, called the shamash, is typically placed above or below the others. Each night, one additional candle is lit by the shamash until all eight candles are lit together on the final night of the festival. Other festivities include playing the game of dreidel and eating special foods.


Kwanzaa is a celebration of African American culture that is held from Monday, December 26 to Sunday, January 1, culminating in a communal feast called Karamu, usually held on the 6th day. It was created based on African harvest festival traditions from various parts of Africa, including West and Southeast Africa and was first celebrated in 1966.

A candle-lighting ceremony each evening during the seven days of Kwanzaa. This provides the opportunity to gather and discuss the meaning one of seven associated principles, which are: Unity, Self-determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Strength.

Ann B. Wheeler was elected Chair At-Large of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors during the 2019 General Election and assumed office on January 1, 2020. Prince William County is located 25 miles south of Washington, D.C., and is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s second-most populous county with approximately 482,000 residents. 
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