Holiday Traditions Fill The Season In Williamsburg

Wednesday, December 1, 2004 - by Priscilla Caldwell

Williamsburg, Va. — Williamsburg’s holiday celebrations are steeped in historical traditions beginning with the first decorated Christmas tree. In 1842, German immigrant and College of William and Mary Professor Charles F. E. Minnegrode introduced the custom of decorated Christmas trees in Williamsburg, Va. His tree was described as “splendidly decorated” with gilded nuts, strings of popcorn and lighted candles.” Today, the tradition continues as Virginia’s Historic Triangle of Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown dons its holiday finery for the season.

The quaint village of Yorktown ushers in the Historic Triangle’s holiday season beginning Friday, Dec. 3, with a Christmas Tree Lighting featuring the Fifes and Drums of York followed by a Lighted Boat Parade on the York River. A riverside bonfire and period tunes played by the Fifes and Drums of York Town warms hands and hearts. Saturday, Dec. 4, Yorktown opens its doors for “An Eventful Affair” including entertainment, craft demonstrations, art exhibits and an illumination of Main Street. Sunday, Dec. 5, young visitors can enjoy Cookies with Santa at the Gallery at York Hall.

In Williamsburg residents and visitors alike turn out for the annual Christmas parade Saturday, Dec. 4, featuring 100 entries of floats, marching bands, and civic clubs. The weekend’s festivities culminate Sunday, Dec. 5, first with an open house at the Williamsburg Winery. Then, that evening Colonial Williamsburg illuminates the Historic Area of town with candlelight during the Grand Illumination, concluding with a dazzling display of “ground works” (18th-century fireworks). Five outdoor stages offer various forms of entertainment throughout the afternoon and evening.

The College of William & Mary celebrates the holiday season with a Yule Log Ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. in the Wren courtyard. Students toss holly sprigs into Wren's Great Hall fireplace. The College President assumes his customary role as Santa in his reading of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," and Vice President for Student Affairs recites his parody, "The Night After Finals." To kindle the holiday fervor, both the Gentlemen of the College and the William and Mary Choir serenade participants with holiday carols. A Christmas tree on the Wren Building porch adorned with paper doves bearing messages of peace that people have inscribed on them.

At dusk on Christmas Eve the mayor gathers with residents and visitors to light the town tree near the Magazine on Duke of Gloucester Street. The cozy ceremony recalls that first tree that Charles Minnegrode decorated in 1842. Carolers lead the revelers in traditional songs by candlelight reminiscent of the 18th century.

Colonial Williamsburg offers daily musical and dramatic programs throughout the holiday season. Decorating workshops and walking tours delight visitors highlighting the lavish natural decorations donning the doorways of Colonial Williamsburg’s houses and stores. In Yorktown see the festive finery of the Historic Houses owned by the National Park Service. The James River Plantations of Berkeley and Shirley invite you to experience elegant teas, progressive luncheons and dinners, decorating workshops and more.

Dec. 18-31 enjoy “A Colonial Christmas” at Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center and learn how the early settlers spent this time of year, the hardships they endured during the 17th century and the holiday preparations of the 18th century.

Shop through Christmas Eve in Merchants Square, a re-created 19th-century shopping village, and hear the enchanting sounds of the season with musical entertainment and a variety of holiday festivities including visits from Santa. The quaint and charming village of Yorktown presents shoppers unique gifts, arts, antiques and reproductions. Prime Outlets at Williamsburg, Patriot Plaza Premium Outlets and the Williamsburg Outlet Mall offer brand-name holiday treasures at discount prices in more than 150 factory outlet stores. Antique lovers will enjoy the Williamsburg Antique Mall’s 45,000 square feet of items provided by 400 antique dealers. The Williamsburg Pottery encompasses 200 acres of crafts, ornaments, imports and more. The Williamsburg Candle Factory features hundreds of candles and accessories to brighten your home. And, make time to dine, whether you prefer a leisurely five-course meal or a buffet extravaganza, the Williamsburg area offers dining for all tastes.

Bring in the New Year with Williamsburg’s First Night, an alcohol-free celebration designed to delight visitors of all ages. Enjoy a variety of music, dancing, theater and food at various locations throughout Colonial Williamsburg and the College of William and Mary.

More than 10,000 hotel rooms provide lodging for everyone, from four-star resorts and cozy bed & breakfasts to full-service hotels and economical motels.

For complete vacation planning information, visit the web site www.VisitWilliamsburg.com or call toll-free 1-800-368-6511, Department 3.



All Aboard...The Chattanooga Choo Choo Rides Again

Passengers once boarded trains daily from Terminal Station at the Chattanooga Choo Choo .  Like the airport travel of our time, traveling from Chattanooga to other cities around the country by rail was the standard.  Not so today. In 1970, Terminal Station closed its 14 tracks and seven boarding platforms. Other than the occasional special event, trains haven’t ... (click for more)

Baseball Legend Cal Ripken, Jr., Music, Larger-Than-Life-Sized Balloons Highlight Pigeon Forge’s New Music In The Mountains Spring Parade On May 4

With Cal Ripken, Jr. leading the way, Pigeon Forge’s (Tennessee) new Music in the Mountains spring parade is set for May 4 at 6 p.m. (Eastern) on the city’s Parkway with entries from Tennessee, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Georgia plus several new elements to extend the celebration into the weekend.   Mr. Ripken, a member of the National Baseball Hall ... (click for more)

McCallie Coach From 90s Who Is Now Deceased Is Accused Of Abusing Students

A McCallie School coach from the 1990s who is now deceased is being accused of abusing students at the private prep school. Two former students said Steve Carpenter sexually abused them. Headmaster Lee Burns sent this statement: Dear McCallie Community,   We are writing today about an unsettling situation that we feel is important to share directly with you. McCallie’s ... (click for more)

County Commission Committee Recommends 2-Year Terms For Magistrates; To Advertise For 2 Openings After Pay Raise

A committee of the County Commission has recommended that county magistrates have two-year terms, instead of one year, and for the commission to take applications on two open seats. The commission will proceed with advertising for the two posts and make an official announcement next Wednesday. Applications will then be taken until May 8. The commission will interview candidates ... (click for more)

Why Can't Someone Unstop The Water Buildup Problem At The I-24 Cummings Highway Exit? - And Response

Exit 174 on westbound Interstate 24 is closed again as is the westbound entrance ramp. Cummings Highway is shut as well. I inquired at TDOT on Dec. 28, 2015, why this continues to happen. The engineer’s response was that the drain from ground west of the interstate runs under private land and cover over it has caused that pipe to collapse. Obviously flow still goes through, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘We’ll Lose The Senate!’

A guy who I admire and respect wrote me yesterday. He had just read my story defending Bob Corker for honoring “The Code” due to his true friendship with Phil Bredesen. He is also no stranger to my vivid dislike of the Republican choice to replace Corker in the Senate. Marsha Blackburn is no match against Bredesen on any tier and it is clearly the Republican Party itself that has ... (click for more)