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5 ecological construction materials

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Are you planning on renovating your home or building a new abode? If so, have you considered the environmental impact of the construction materials? Here are five building materials you may want to consider to reduce your ecological footprint.

1. Wood is ideal for home construction because it’s weather-resistant, recyclable, renewable, and an excellent insulator. In addition, it’s readily available and easy to maintain.

2. Straw is an inexpensive insulator. In fact, it can stay in peak condition for several hundred years if kept dry. However, you must include fire protection as part of the installation.

3. Cork is a lightweight, water-repellent, and rot-proof material that’s great for insulating and soundproofing your home. It’s also resistant to insects and fungi. The only disadvantage is that it tends to be pricey.

4. Bamboo is a fast-growing grass that reaches maturity in four years. It’s a versatile material that’s suitable for flooring, furniture, insulation, and soundproofing.

5. Steel is a great building material. You don’t need to use very much to reach the same structural stability as wood. It’s even more environmentally friendly when composed of recycled resources.

You can use many other materials to renovate your home while respecting the environment. Ask an expert in your area to show you available ecological solutions.

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White Christmas” and the Man Behind the Melody: Irving Berlin’s Enduring Legacy

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The tale of a timeless classic and the extraordinary life of songwriter Irving Berlin.

A Timeless Tune
As the holiday season approaches, the familiar strains of “White Christmas” waft through the airwaves, evoking feelings of nostalgia and warmth. With its timeless melody and heartfelt lyrics, this classic song has become synonymous with the magic of Christmas. But do you know the story behind this beloved holiday anthem?

Legend has it that Irving Berlin, the prolific songwriter responsible for “White Christmas,” once remarked to Bing Crosby, “You don’t have to worry about this one.” Indeed, Berlin may have had a premonition of the enduring legacy this song would achieve.

Berlin’s faith in his creation was well-founded. “White Christmas” made its debut in 1942 as part of the movie “Holiday Inn.” Crosby’s rendition, featured in the film, quickly ascended to the pinnacle of the music charts. It wasn’t just a hit; it was a phenomenon. The song went on to become one of the best-selling records of all time, topping the charts a remarkable twelve times and eventually selling a staggering 50 million physical copies.

From Humble Beginnings to Musical Maestro
Irving Berlin’s journey to becoming a musical maestro was marked by resilience and determination. Born as Israel Beilin in Tsarist Russia, he arrived in the United States with his family at the tender age of five in 1893. The Beilin family, like thousands of other Russian Jewish families, had fled their homeland to escape brutal pogroms and the virulent anti-Jewish policies of Tsar Alexander III.

Tragedy struck when Berlin’s father passed away just eight years after their arrival, leaving the family in dire straits. Berlin, a mere eight-year-old with only two years of schooling, took to the streets to sell newspapers and contribute his meager earnings to his struggling mother. At fourteen, he ventured out on his own, making a living by singing in honky-tonks and gradually transitioning into songwriting. His first major hit, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” marked the beginning of a legendary career.

Despite his humble beginnings, Berlin developed a profound love for America and an unshakable sense of patriotism. His composition “God Bless America” stands as a testament to his deep affection for his adopted homeland, earning its place as a classic song performed in his honor upon his passing in 1989. Walter Cronkite, the legendary broadcaster, once eloquently stated that Berlin played a vital role in “writing the story of this country, capturing the best of who we are.”

A Blend of Traditions and a Lifelong Love
Irving Berlin’s personal life was equally fascinating. While he was of Jewish heritage, Berlin celebrated many traditional Christmases with his wife, Ellin, who was Catholic—a fact that intrigued America at the time. Their union wasn’t without its challenges; when they eloped in 1926, Ellin’s father promptly disowned her.

Christmas Day in 1928 brought both joy and sorrow to the Berlin household. It was the day their only son, Irving Jr., passed away at less than a month old. Despite this heart-wrenching loss, the Berlins eventually reconciled with Ellin’s father, and their love story continued to flourish. The couple went on to have three other children, enjoying a lifetime filled with success and an enduring love affair.

As the strains of “White Christmas” once again fill the air, let us remember the extraordinary life of Irving Berlin, a man whose enduring melodies continue to enchant generations and whose story is a testament to the American dream. In the words of his timeless song, “May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white.”

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Harnessing the Power of Positive Thinking: A Roadmap to Emotional Wellness

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Embracing Optimism as a Tool for Personal Growth.

In a world often shadowed by negativity and stress, the power of positive thinking emerges as a beacon of hope. It’s not just a feel-good mantra; it’s a practical approach to life’s challenges. This article explores the transformative impact of optimism on our mental health and overall well-being.

We’ve all been stuck in traffic, dealing with a flat tire, and feeling overwhelmed by life’s demands. These moments test our resilience, tempting us to succumb to negativity. However, embracing a positive mindset can significantly alter our emotional landscape.

Positive thinking isn’t about ignoring life’s problems but approaching them from a place of empowerment and hope. When faced with adversity, our natural inclination might be to spiral into worry and despair. Yet, the simple act of shifting our thoughts can profoundly affect our mood.

The idea of changing one’s life by changing one’s thoughts isn’t new. It’s a principle rooted in various psychological theories and has been a cornerstone of self-help philosophies. But how does this work in practice? Can positive thinking make a difference when life feels spiraling out of control?

The answer lies in the science of the brain. Our thoughts have a direct impact on our emotions. By consciously choosing to focus on positive aspects, even in difficult situations, we can create a more hopeful narrative. This doesn’t mean ignoring the negative but not letting it dominate our mindset.

Consider a bad day at work or a conflict in a relationship. These situations can easily lead us down a path of negativity. However, we can shift our perspective by actively focusing on positive outcomes or lessons learned. This shift isn’t just about feeling better in the moment; it’s about building resilience for future challenges.

The power of positive thinking extends beyond personal benefits. It influences how we interact with others and perceive the world around us. A positive outlook can improve our relationships, enhance work performance, and contribute to a more compassionate society.

But let’s address a common misconception: positive thinking isn’t a magic cure-all. It requires effort and practice. It’s about making a conscious choice every day to look for the silver lining, even when it feels elusive.

In a world rife with uncertainty and stress, embracing optimism is more than just a feel-good strategy; it’s a necessary tool for emotional survival. By cultivating positive thoughts, we not only improve our own lives but also contribute to a more hopeful and resilient world. Remember, the power of positivity lies within each of us, ready to be harnessed for a brighter, more fulfilling future.

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Poinsettia Perfection: Tips for Long-Lasting Beauty

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How to Keep Your Poinsettias Thriving Beyond the Holiday Season.

Poinsettias, the vibrant red and green plants synonymous with holiday cheer, can remain a beautiful addition to your home long after the festive season. These seasonal favorites can retain their splendor for months with extra care and attention to detail. Here’s how you can ensure your poinsettias stay as fresh and bright as the day you brought them home.

The key to a healthy poinsettia begins with its location. Place your plant near a source of bright but indirect light. Direct sunlight can be too harsh, but insufficient light will cause the plant to lose its vibrant colors. The right balance of light will keep your poinsettia looking lively and colorful.

If your poinsettia comes in a pot wrapped in decorative foil, a common presentation during the holidays, it’s important to modify it for the plant’s health. Punch holes in the bottom of the foil to prevent water accumulation, which can lead to root rot. Place the plant on a saucer to catch any excess water that drains out.

Watering your poinsettia correctly is crucial. Always use room-temperature water to avoid shocking the plant’s roots. Slowly pour water into the pot until it begins to drain out of the bottom, then discard any water that collects in the saucer. Over-watering is a common mistake; it can cause the leaves to turn yellow and fall off. Conversely, under-watering will result in wilting and leaf loss. To gauge the plant’s watering needs, check the pot daily until you establish how much water it uses. The top quarter-inch of soil should be dry before you water again.

Fertilizing is also an essential part of poinsettia care. Once a month, apply a water-soluble fertilizer following the manufacturer’s instructions. This will provide the nutrients to keep the plant healthy and promote continued growth.

Following these simple guidelines, your poinsettia can thrive well beyond the holiday season, bringing a touch of color and joy to your home. Proper light, careful watering, and regular fertilization are all it takes to extend the life of this festive plant. With these tender care tips, your poinsettia can remain a beautiful reminder of the holiday spirit all year round.

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The Royalty of Gestures: The Nod

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Like the variety of words Eskimos use to describe snow, the “nod” has infinite meanings and offers endless, nuanced shades of communication. A nod can simultaneously speak virtually every language yet never utter a word. A nod can be heavy or weigh nothing. For these reasons and more, the humble nod is considered by many to be the Royalty of Gestures, an art form: side to side, up and down, or down and up.

The most common nod sighting is when two males cross paths – happens every day if one steps out into the world. (Generally speaking, women may not nod in passing, though there are exceptions.) It’s an eye-to-eye male thing whose origins probably date back to when we were still in the cave, and it was critical that one’s intentions not be misunderstood. First, a meeting of the eyes and then a nod of friendly feelings.

Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, the nod begets a return nod so that the nodders know all is well in their respective worlds. Handshakes come from the same place. Occasionally, the noddee doesn’t return the nodder’s gesture: Bad hair day — Nothing personal. Even rarer is a bounce-back scowl: Angry man — Potential danger. Danger, where the benefits of casting a nod are most informative. There are some people for whom it’s best to keep one’s distance. Here’s a perfect example where, without saying a word, a nod is telling us something — And we should listen.

There are regular nods and “up-nods,” whereby the head is gently snapped up and back down, whereas a regular nod is down and back up. The regular nod is employed almost exclusively with males you don’t know, feeling out for that communication of peaceful intentions, whereas the “Up Nod” is reserved for friends or acquaintances and often accompanied by a verbal acknowledgment as in “Hey, Joe” Up Nod.

On occasion, women may demurely smile back at an appropriate male’s nod, one whose meaning is respectful, where there is a mutual understanding that there is no intent to encourage anything further. Think of it as a tip of the hat. But never a return nod here. And there is the side-to-side nod in company, which usually means either a simple no or when secretly done with great subtlety in a delicate situation: “Shut up.”

The mutual understanding nod happens when two or more individuals bob their heads in collective agreement, up and down for yes, or side to side, together, for no. The up nod doesn’t apply here. Meditation precedes the “all-knowing” nod. Also, be careful with your “Auction nod”. An accidental nod at the wrong time at an auction could buy you a castle in Spain that you couldn’t pay for in a million years.

A raised eyebrow often serves in place of a nod, reserved mostly for male-female encounters. But we can’t all do that, and so have to fall back on the nod, providing an appropriate invitation has been sent. A nod here is usually not as effective as an arched eyebrow thrown at the right time.

A nod is an acknowledgment, a courtesy, an answer, an opinion, a question, a yes and a no, and, with a shrug of the shoulders, even a maybe.

There’s so much more. Here we’re just scratching the surface on the art of nodding.

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Malls May Be Dying, but Santa Still Thrives: A Journey Through Time and Tradition

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Where will the kids see Santa in an era of declining malls? The evolution of Santa Claus and the future of this cherished holiday tradition.

The Dawn of a Jolly Tradition
In the bygone era of yesteryears, children’s knowledge of Santa Claus was primarily gleaned from stories, newspapers, and cherished books. Santa, the mythical figure who embodied the spirit of giving, was a distant yet beloved character in the hearts of children worldwide. However, the dawn of a new tradition was on the horizon, and it was about to change how families experienced Christmas’s magic.

In 1891, a pivotal moment occurred in retail and holiday celebrations. James Edgar of Brockton, Massachusetts, donned the iconic red suit and bushy white beard, becoming the first Santa Claus to grace a department store. This momentous event marked a sea change in the world of retail, as children from near and far began arriving by train to catch a glimpse of this legendary figure. While Macy’s in New York City also lays claim to hosting the first Santa, it was James Edgar’s portrayal that set the archetype of Santa as a jolly, rotund grandfather figure, as reported by New England.com.

From Downtown Stores to Mall Santas
As the 20th century progressed, the landscape of Santa sightings underwent a transformation of its own. By the late 1990s, Santa had largely bid adieu to the freestanding downtown department stores, which had begun to decline in popularity. Instead, he found a new home in the heart of America’s booming malls. It was a symbiotic relationship; malls provided a hub for holiday shoppers, and Santa brought in the families, creating cherished memories captured in photographs.

Yet, as we step into the year 2023, a pall of uncertainty hangs over America’s shopping malls. With only 700 malls still in operation, a sharp decline from the apex of mall culture in the 1980s when there were 2,500, according to Business Insider, the landscape is indeed changing. However, Santa Claus remains a stalwart presence, proving that the allure of the holiday season transcends the ebb and flow of retail trends.

A Profitable Tradition Endures
In the face of adversity, Santa continues to thrive, drawing entire families for professional photos amid glittering backdrops. Gone are the days of modest North Pole sets; today’s high-end shopping centers, like the Grove in Los Angeles, adorn towering 100-foot trees, while Paramus Park Mall in New Jersey boasts an extravagant 10-room Christmas village brimming with festive goods for sale.

Even smaller, ailing malls manage to summon the holiday spirit for a few precious weeks each year. Take the Military Circle Mall in Norfolk, Virginia, which was razed earlier this year. It managed to welcome crowds during the last weeks of 2022, infusing an otherwise dark and vacant space with the luminance and warmth of one last Christmas celebration.

The Uncertain Future of Santa
Yet, malls face a sketchy future, and the implications are far-reaching. Small towns may soon find themselves devoid of department stores or malls, leaving us to ponder the fate of Santa Claus. Will your UPS driver don a red suit and exclaim a hearty “ho ho ho” while delivering presents to your doorstep? Might you order up Santa delivery as casually as your favorite burrito? Could the age-old tradition of meeting Santa shift to a virtual realm, with families Skyping Santa from their living rooms?

As we stand at this crossroads, the future of Santa culture remains uncertain. What is certain, however, is the enduring appeal of this beloved holiday tradition. In the face of changing retail landscapes, Santa Claus, that symbol of generosity and goodwill, will find a way to continue spreading joy and brightening the hearts of children, young and old.

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Stress-Free Holiday Celebrations: Tips for a Relaxing Season

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Simple Strategies to Navigate the Holiday Frenzy with Ease.

The holiday season, while filled with joy and festivities, often brings a whirlwind of stress and exhaustion. However, with a few practical tips and mindful approaches, it’s entirely possible to bask in the holiday spirit without feeling overwhelmed. Here’s how you can enjoy a more relaxed and fulfilling holiday season.

Shopping: Begin your holiday shopping early, especially when using online retailers. Avoid the last-minute rush by adhering to a general rule: aim to ship gifts by December 15. For late purchases, overnight shipping is an option, but keep track of each order to ensure timely arrival.

Decorating: Transform your space into a festive haven with just one or two tasteful displays. There’s no need to go overboard with decorations both inside and outside. Aim to complete your decorating by the first week of December for a stress-free holiday ambiance.

Baking: If time is short, let a local bakery handle your holiday treats. This approach saves time and allows you to enjoy a variety of professionally made goodies.

Christmas Dinner: Simplify your holiday meal. Instead of an array of side dishes, focus on a main course like turkey, rib roast, or ham, complemented by classics like baked potatoes, vegetables, and salad. A straightforward menu can be just as festive and far less taxing.

Family Visits: To manage demands for your presence, plan early. If balancing visits between two sets of parents, consider scheduling one for Christmas Day and the other for Christmas Eve. Alternative options include meeting on the Sunday before Christmas or the Saturday after.

Gift Wrapping: Save time with gift bags or boxes, adding just a simple bow for a touch of festivity. This method is efficient and presents your gifts in an attractive and hassle-free manner.

Personal Care: Maintain your normal sleep and exercise routines as much as possible. Embrace quiet moments to rejuvenate amidst the holiday bustle.

Holiday Eating: Approach holiday meals with moderation. Avoid going to dinners on an empty stomach, and try to sample small portions of different dishes. Stopping before you’re completely full can help you enjoy the variety without discomfort.

Dealing with Relatives: Prepare mentally for family gatherings. Resolve to enjoy the occasion despite any challenging dynamics, and remember to take things in stride.

The key to a stress-free holiday season lies in simplification and planning. By streamlining your approach to shopping, decorating, and entertaining, you can create a relaxed atmosphere that allows you to enjoy the essence of the season truly. Remember, the holidays are a time for joy and celebration, not stress and exhaustion.

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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:

@AHIER

Aders Insurance Agency, Inc (State Farm)

Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning

Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Avery-Hess Realty, Marilyn King

Beaver Tree Services

Blake and Co. Hair Spa

Blue Mountain Creative Consulting

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Card My Yard

CBM Mortgage, Michelle Napier

Christine Binnix - McEnearney Associates

Code Jamboree LLC

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Explore Art & Clay

Family Preservation Services

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Independent Business Alliance

Front Royal/Warren County C-CAP

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Treatment Center

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

Fussell Florist

G&M Auto Sales Inc

Garcia & Gavino Family Bakery

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

Habitat for Humanity

Groups Recover Together

House of Hope

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jean’s Jewelers

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Key Move Properties, LLC

KW Solutions

Legal Services Plans of Northern Shenendoah

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Merchants on Main Street

Mountain Trails

Mountain View Music

National Media Services

Natural Results Chiropractic Clinic

No Doubt Accounting

Northwestern Community Services Board

Ole Timers Antiques

Penny Lane Hair Co.

Philip Vaught Real Estate Management

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Rotary Club of Warren County

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Cinemas

Royal Examiner

Royal Family Bowling Center

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Ruby Yoga

Salvation Army

Samuels Public Library

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

Shenandoah Shores Management Group

St. Luke Community Clinic

Strites Doughnuts

Studio Verde

The Arc of Warren County

The Institute for Association & Nonprofit Research

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

The Vine and Leaf

Valley Chorale

Vetbuilder.com

Warren Charge (Bennett's Chapel, Limeton, Asbury)

Warren Coalition

Warren County Democratic Committee

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warren County DSS Job Development

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

WCPS Work-Based Learning

What Matters & Beth Medved Waller, Inc Real Estate

White Picket Fence

Woodward House on Manor Grade

King Cartoons

Front Royal, VA
52°
Rain Shower
7:20 am4:50 pm EST
Feels like: 52°F
Wind: 3mph NNW
Humidity: 94%
Pressure: 29.76"Hg
UV index: 0
MonTueWed
43°F / 23°F
50°F / 28°F
46°F / 23°F

Upcoming Events

Dec
12
Tue
7:30 pm American Legion Community Band C... @ Boggs Chapel at R-MA
American Legion Community Band C... @ Boggs Chapel at R-MA
Dec 12 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
American Legion Community Band Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel at R-MA
The American Legion Community Band, located in Front Royal, Virginia, was formed in 1986 and has been playing concerts in the area ever since. The conductors and band members are all volunteer musicians from the local[...]
Dec
13
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 13 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Dec
16
Sat
7:00 am Pancake Breakfast @ Riverton United Methodist Church
Pancake Breakfast @ Riverton United Methodist Church
Dec 16 @ 7:00 am – 10:00 am
Pancake Breakfast @ Riverton United Methodist Church
Join us for pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, biscuits, sausage gravy, and juice/coffee! All are invited for this FREE event. Offering will be accepted.
10:00 am 10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Dec 16 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Journey back in time and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of a Civil War Encampment during the holidays. Interact with the 10th VA Infantry, also known as the Valley Guards,[...]
1:00 pm The Nutcracker @ Skyline High School
The Nutcracker @ Skyline High School
Dec 16 @ 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
The Nutcracker @ Skyline High School
Italia Performing Arts is pleased to announce its own student production of The Nutcracker, a Christmas classic to be enjoyed by the whole family! When: Saturday, December 16th at 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM Where:[...]
Dec
17
Sun
10:00 am 10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Dec 17 @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
10th Virginia Infantry Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Journey back in time and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of a Civil War Encampment during the holidays. Interact with the 10th VA Infantry, also known as the Valley Guards,[...]
Dec
20
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 20 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Dec
27
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 27 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Jan
1
Mon
5:30 am First Day Hikes at Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
First Day Hikes at Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jan 1 @ 5:30 am – 1:00 pm
First Day Hikes at Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area: While the American tradition of celebrating the New Year occurs at midnight on New Year’s Eve, other cultures celebrate by enjoying the sunrise on New Year’s Day. As part of the continuing American[...]
Jan
3
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Jan 3 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]