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Issue 188

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Prince William County

Dear Neighbors,

Traditions are such an important part of the Holiday Season. I hope The Wheeler Report annual Holiday Guide is one tradition you have come to enjoy. Arriving just before Thanksgiving, it is full of things to ensure you get into the holiday spirit! With the number and variety of events, you and your family are sure to find things to put on your calendar. Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful Thanksgiving and a fun transition into the many holiday festivities throughout our County.

In Service,

Chair Ann Wheeler

Helpful Tips

Entertaining is a big part of the holidays. Below you'll find a few helpful resources to help ensure everyone stays safe this year

If you are cooking, you can visit the:

Having little ones as guests, visit the National Safety Council Child Proofing your Home.

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 25, is Small Business Saturday. PWC is home to 1000s of small businesses. Unfortunately, many small businesses have faced challenging times in the last few years, so 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:

Giving Tuesday

Tuesday, November 28, 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. 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 2023 Wreaths Across America at Quantico National Cemetery will be Sunday, December 17. National Wreaths Across America's mission is to:

REMEMBER the Fallen. . . HONOR those who Serve. . . TEACH our children the value of Freedom.

You can support the event by:

Please note, Quantico National Cemetery is giving the highest priority to those laying wreaths on the gravesites of their loved ones on Saturday, December 16. If you have a grave specific request, or any questions, please email NOVAVETS.WAA@NOVAVETS.ORG.

Visit the virtual Remember Wall to read recent posts made by event supporters and wreath sponsors in honor of or in memory of an American hero.


Volunteer Prince William's Untrim-a-Tree program serves Prince William County, the City of Manassas and the City of Manassas Park. The annual program provides two gifts to local children valued at up to $75 total per child. Last year over 3,500 children received gifts! 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:

  • Submit an Untrim a Tree Donor Form.
  • Bring your donation to the Prince William Fairgrounds at 10624 Dumfries Road in Manassas on Sunday, December 10, from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, Monday, December 11, or Tuesday, December 12, 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
  • Make a monetary donation here.

Volunteer Prince William has been serving upwards of 4000 families per year during the holiday season. Donations are tax-deductible, and you will receive a donation letter detailing your donation.

The Quantico U. S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots is underway through Sunday, December 10. To participate drop off a new and unwrapped toy at:

Clothes and used toys cannot be accepted. 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.

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!

Getting into the Holiday Spirit

Saturday, November 25, through Sunday, December 10, Rooftop Productions is presenting Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Based on the beloved, timeless film, this heartwarming musical adaptation features 17 Irving Berlin songs. Veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis have a successful song-and-dance act after World War II. With romance in mind, the two follow a duo of beautiful singing sisters to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge, which just happens to be owned by their former army commander. 

Friday, December 1, from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm, Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center in Woodbridge is hosting its annual Tree Lighting. Activities for the whole family include selfies with Santa, face painting, activities, as well as performances by holiday carolers and Those Funny Little Peoples.

PWC Department of Parks and Recreation's 2nd annual Holiday Walk of Lights is back this year and brighter than ever! Experience the magic of the holiday season as you walk down a path of unique, hand-crafted light displays at Neabsco Regional Park. Bring family and friends and be prepared to be in awe of the dazzling lights that surround us! Free with no registration required

Hours of Operation

December 1 through 3, Friday to Sunday, 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm

December 8 through 10, Friday to Sunday, 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm

December 12,Tuesday, Sensory Friendly Event, 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm

December 15 through 17, Friday to Sunday, 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm

December 20 through 23, Wednesday to Saturday, 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm

Friday, December 1, at 5:15 pm, Santa Lights Manassas will take place in Old Town Manassas. The magic begins with holiday musical performances followed by Santa arriving shortly after 6 p.m. After the tree lighting, Santa and Mrs. Claus greet all the children and listen to their holiday wishes near the gazebo. 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 here.

Saturday, December 2, at 10:00 am, you won't want to miss the 77th annual Greater Manassas Christmas Parade, ‘Christmas in Toyland.' 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 2, 9:30 am to 3:00 pm, the PWC Holiday Market will be at the

Dale City Farmers Market. Come find unique gifts, crafts, specialty items and your favorite treats. From books, jewelry, leather goods, wreaths, holiday items, crochet items and more. Browse the wide selection of handcrafted goods, children's clothing and more. Readymade foods and drinks are also available for purchase. See the large number of participating vendors here.

Saturday, December 2, 11:00 am to 7:00 pm, and Sunday, December 3, 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. This event is free. No tickets required. As a special extra, concerts are scheduled both days at 2:00 pm. Free shuttle service is available for patrons from the Rt 123 and Old Bridge Road commuter from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm both days.

Saturday, December 2, 9:00 am to 11:00 am, at the Holiday Market, you can also enter the 5th 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 9, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, join the fun at PWC's first annual Family Gingerbread House Building Contest at Veterans Memorial Park. Each family will receive one gingerbread house kit to build and decorate to submit for judging. All family members participating must pre-register for this event here.

Saturday, December 9, and Tuesday, December 12, 1:00 pm to 4:00 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 3:00 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 1 through Friday, December 22, 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. Admission is $5 per person, children six and under are free.
  • Saturday, December 2, and Sunday, 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. Reservations are required. Admission is $10 per person, children 6 and under are free.
  • Saturday, December 9, 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 the weather as some activities are outside. Reservations are required. Admission is $5 per child.

Ben Lomond Historic Site

Saturday, December 9, 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, Civil War Christmas at Ben Lomond explores how the war impacted the Pringle family at Ben Lomond and their Christmas traditions, as well as those of the local enslaved population. Admission is $5 per person, children 6 and under free.

Brentsville Courthouse

Saturday, December 9, 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. Get your picture taken with Santa and sip hot cider as you enjoy a musical performance by the Brentsville District High School Choir. This event is free, but advanced tickets are required for the concert inside the historic courthouse.

Special Dates

Advent and Christmas

Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ and is observed primarily on Monday, 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 (An Important Season issue 94) from Sunday, December 3, to Sunday 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 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 Thursday, December 7, and ends at nightfall, Friday, December 15. 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 Tuesday, December 26, to Monday, 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 is held each evening during the seven days of Kwanzaa. This provides the opportunity to gather and discuss the meaning of 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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