The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival® is pleased to announce the 2023 Apple Blossom Sports Hall of Fame Inductees, Debby Sanders and James W. “Jim” Casey. Debby and the Casey family will be honored for their contribution to sports in the region at 8:00 a.m. during the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast on Saturday morning, May 6, 2023, in the Tolley Dental Zone at the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletic and Event Center, 1188 Ralph Shockey Drive. General admission tickets are $45 and VIP tickets are $125. Both are available at www.thebloom.com/events.
Debby retired from Frederick County Public Schools after 30 years as a Health and PE teacher, Department Chair, and Head Girls’ Basketball Coach.
She coached Millbrook High School girls’ basketball team from 2004-2013 with 84 consecutive wins. The team titles include the following: State Champions 2010, 2011, 2012; Regional Champions 2010, 2011, 2012; District Champions 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013; Regional Runner-Up 2009; and State Semi-Finalists 2009.
She was named State Coach of the Year from 2010 through 2012; Regional Coach of the Year from 2009 to 2012; and District Coach of the Year in 1997 and from 2009 through 2013.
After coaching, Debby served as an assistant athletic director for one year and volunteered at numerous sporting events. She was inducted into the Millbrook Athletic Hall of Fame and started the Millbrook “Go Pink” Millbrook vs. Cancer annual events that help to raise money to support individuals and families in the community impacted by cancer.
James W. “Jim” Casey
A native of Boyce and 32-year employee of James Wood High School, James “Jim” William Casey died at the age of 92 on Jan. 8, 2023. He is remembered and missed by scores of people in the area as he is inducted into the 2023 Apple Blossom Sports Hall of Fame.
Casey is survived by two of his three children – James M. and his daughter Ann. His son, John Casey, noted blacksmith and manager of the family farm, died at age 61 this past March. Coach Casey is also survived by his brother Jerry. Jim’s wife Eleanor MacDonald died in 2005. She, with Jim, founded and operated one of West Virginia’s most successful thoroughbred and racing operations. The operation was first named for Eleanor, and then after her death, for their horse farm Taylor Mountain.
Jim graduated from Boyce Agricultural High School and the College of William and Mary where he ran track, played baseball, and was the varsity football manager. After two years in the military, Casey returned to begin his career at James Wood High School, where he was a teacher, coach, and athletic director.
Retired athletic director at Handley High School, Jimmy Omps, said of Casey, “I remember watching Casey run the cinder track at Handley, the 100-yard dash in close to 10 seconds. He was very intelligent; he knew the rules.”
Don Shirley, a retired principal at James Wood, agreed that his intelligence was a comfort to him and a sounding board. “He was good listener…I missed that greatly when he retired. He was one of the most loyal persons I can think of. He remembered everything, the kids, who did what in which game. Unbelievable!”
Former JWHS student Danny Hoopes recalled that Casey was a great strategy coach; he was not vocal, but he was a confident man. Hoopes, who Coach Casey nicknamed Hoops, Jr. greeted him that way for years. Why Hoops, Jr? Hoops was told to figure it out himself. Seems Hoops was the 1945 Kentucky Derby winner.
Casey’s son, a veterinarian like his grandfather, said, “He never really got upset about anything. He could take things in stride.”
The 1954-55 school year marked the beginning of Casey’s run of success as head coach in three sports. In baseball, he never had a losing record; his football winning record included a 10-0 season in 1964, but he was at his best with basketball. After James Wood High School hired Casey as head coach, he had a record of 132-29, winning eight District titles.
Casey’s post-educational career as horse owner and trainer featured more than 1,200 wins, including a record 35 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic victories as a trainer. Casey moved from Winchester to Charles Town, W.Va. in 2002 after acquiring 146 acres in Jefferson County.
Like his grandfather, he was generous. There is the Dr. Joseph M. Casey scholarship at Clarke County High given to a student pursuing a degree in science or veterinarian medicine. The generosity and encouragement Casey and his wife Eleanor left to future generations are scholarships named the JAMES & ELEANOR CASEY ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIPS which are awarded yearly at James Wood High School, Millbrook High School, Sherando High School, Clarke County High School, Washington High, and Jefferson High Schools. The scholarships are used by an athlete to further their education and playing a college sport is not a requirement.
As late as 2022 he won 24 races and was at the track every morning. On the morning of January 6, 2023 Casey fell at the track and suffered a broken leg. He won the race while in surgery and seemed to be on the mend when he died two days later. His wife Eleanor had died in similar circumstances, A loose horse caused her to fall and break her hip at age 74 in 2005.
His son, James M. Casey, told the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred journal, “He enjoyed it–the people, the horses, the races. He went to the track every day until the very end.” Casey’s racing resume records over 1,200 wins, his horse, No Love for Juba, a homebred horse, won the West Virginia Futurity on Jan. 8, the day of his death. Late in the Game, came in second.
Coach Casey’s son and daughter will accept their father’s induction into the 2023 Apple Blossom Sports Hall of Fame.
Join us at the Partlow Insurance Sports Breakfast at the Tolley Zone in the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletic and Event Center on Shenandoah University Campus on Saturday morning, May 6, 2023 at 8:00 a.m. Tickets to Festival events are available at www.thebloom.com/events.
This Week’s Showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of December 7th
Are you looking for the full movie-going experience without having to wait in the long lines that often accompany that experience? Then look no further because Royal Cinemas movie theatre is the answer. Get the whole gang together and enjoy a movie! Reserved seating in all auditoriums.
Here is a list of this week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of Thursday, December 7:
Ticket prices are as follows:
- Adult: $10
- Child (under 12): $7
- Military: $8
- Student (college): $8
- Senior: $8
- Matinees, All Seating: $7
FREE “Christmas Classics” Movies
“NAUGHTY OR NICE TRIPLE FEATURE”
Saturday and Sunday @ 1:00pm
- “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom”
Triumphant Harmony: Fishnet Ministries Hosts Three Pianos Christmas Concert
A Unique Musical Celebration to Herald the Festive Season in Front Royal.
In the heart of December, when the chill of winter meets the warmth of festive cheer, Fishnet Ministries Church in Front Royal, VA, is set to host an extraordinary musical event: the Three Pianos Christmas Concert. Scheduled for Sunday, December 17, at 6 pm, this concert promises to be a harmonious blend of pianos and voices, celebrating the joy and peace of the Christmas season.
The concert, a novel concept featuring three pianos played simultaneously, is set to be led by Bobbi Andes, a Shenandoah University alumnus, alongside talented pianists Naomi Marie Caricofe and Zack Dodson. This trio of pianists will merge their skills to create a captivating and inspiring atmosphere filled with beloved Christmas Carols. The synchronization of three pianos is a testament to the pianists’ skill and a symbolic representation of the harmony and unity that the holiday season embodies.
Bobbi Andes, renowned for her God-inspired touch on the keyboard, brings a wealth of experience to this event. Together with her husband, Pastor Larry Andes of Fishnet Ministries Church, she has historically guided worship for vast crowds at the Fishnet Festivals. Her profound musical heritage and deep ties with the community infuse this concert with genuine depth and resonance.
Adding to the musical spectacle, vocalists Cheryl Yancey and Tracy Atsiknoudous will lend their voices, further enhancing the melodic experience. The concert will also feature a vibrant display of banners presented by the youth, adding a visual element to the auditory experience.
In keeping with the spirit of giving and community, the Three Piano Concert is offering free admission. Attendees can also look forward to enjoying refreshments, making the event not just a concert but a communal celebration. This musical evening is not just a performance; it’s an invitation to the community to come together and share in the joy and peace of the holiday season.
The Three Pianos Christmas Concert at Fishnet Ministries Church is more than just a musical event; it’s a gathering that epitomizes the essence of the Christmas spirit. Through the harmonious blend of pianos and voices, the concert aims to spread joy and peace, reminding us of the true reason for the season. This unique celebration is open to everyone, promising an evening of enchanting music and festive cheer. Don’t miss this special opportunity to be part of a memorable holiday experience on Sunday, December 17, at Fishnet Ministries Church located beside Rockland Park, 391 Fishnet Blvd., Front Royal, VA 22630
Magical Radio Days Reimagined: Selah Theatre Project Brings a Holiday Classic to Life
Andrew J. Fenady’s ‘Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus’ Hits the Stage This December.
The charm of old-time radio, where imaginations ran wild and stories came to life in the minds of listeners, is being rekindled in Middletown, VA. This holiday season, Selah Theatre Project, in collaboration with Laurel Ridge Community College, is set to enchant audiences with its latest production, “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.” The play, written by the celebrated Andrew J. Fenady, is a visual and auditory feast, an adaptation of the beloved 1897 editorial from the New York Sun.
In an era dominated by screens, this production harks back to the golden age of radio, offering a unique theatrical experience. It revolves around a heartwarming exchange where young Virginia, in her quest for truth, writes to the New York Sun asking about the existence of Santa Claus. This inquiry leads Ed Mitchell, the editor, to assign the task to Frank Church, a reporter grappling with personal struggles. Church’s profound response, affirming Santa’s existence, has since woven itself into the fabric of Christmas traditions worldwide.
With nineteen actors, both budding and experienced, the Selah Theatre Project’s rendition promises a blend of nostalgia and innovation. Audiences will be swept away to an era where radio reigned supreme, meeting an array of vivid characters including Virginia, Frank Church, and Santa Claus himself. The cast, under the skillful direction of LaTasha Do’zia, breathes life into this classic tale, ensuring a visual and auditory treat.
Selah Theatre Project, known for its commitment to quality community theatre, finds this production especially close to its heart. The play not only celebrates the Christmas spirit and the innocence of childhood but also stands as a testament to the enduring power of storytelling. Supported by a grant from the Community Foundation of the Northern Shenandoah Valley, this production is more than a play; it’s a community event, fostering the arts and bringing people together in the spirit of the holidays.
As the holiday season approaches, “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” offers a perfect opportunity for families and friends to gather and immerse themselves in a world of wonder and joy. Selah Theatre Project invites everyone to experience this enchanting production, which not only entertains but also supports the arts in the community. With performances scheduled from December 8-10 & 15-17 at the William H. McCoy Theatre, Laurel Ridge Community College, this is an event not to be missed. Tickets are available online, via phone, or at the door, promising a magical evening for all.
Tickets can be purchased at selahtheatreproject.org or call 540-684-5464 or at the door.
A Night of Merriment: Front Royal’s Christmas Parade Draws Record Crowds
A Spectacular Evening of Floats, Music, and Santa’s Sleigh Marks the Holiday Season.
The Town of Front Royal donned its festive attire, turning into a picturesque winter wonderland for the eagerly awaited annual Christmas parade. Excited residents filled the streets, their faces glowing with anticipation as they awaited the parade’s start.
The 2023 edition of the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade was brought to life under the hosting of Mike McCool, the Royal Examiner Publisher, and Mayor Lori Cockrell. The event was captured beautifully by Royal Examiner videographer Mark Williams, and heartfelt appreciation was extended to the parade’s sponsor, Lindsay Chevrolet.
Commenting on the impressive crowd, McCool observed with enthusiasm, “This looks like it’s going to be one of the largest turnouts for our Christmas parade.”
Participants ranged from community groups to lively bands and dance troupes, each adding a unique flavor to the festive procession. Local businesses and various organizations outdid themselves with colorful and imaginative floats that captivated both young and old alike. Adding to the musical cheer, the Warren County High School and Skyline High Bands and their respective cheer teams performed enthusiastically, echoing the festive spirit throughout the town.
The highlight of the evening, as always, was the arrival of Santa Claus. Breaking tradition, Santa opted out of his usual spot atop a fire truck, choosing instead to ride in his signature red sleigh. His appearance was met with waves and cheers, especially from the children bundled up along the sidewalks, their faces lit with excitement.
The parade concluded with the members of the Front Royal Police Department following Santa, symbolizing the close of another successful and joyous celebration. In conversation with McCool, Mayor Lori Cockrell aptly summed up the event’s significance: “It’s so important to have everybody come together as a community and celebrate this wonderful holiday.” The sentiment was echoed in the smiles and interactions among the residents, who were clearly appreciative of the chance to come together and usher in the holiday season.
The Front Royal Christmas parade marks the beginning of the holiday season and highlights this charming town’s strong sense of community and togetherness. From the lively performances to the appearance of Santa Claus, the event was a perfect blend of tradition, joy, and communal celebration. As the town lights twinkled in the background, Front Royal residents were reminded of the magic and warmth of the holiday season, especially when shared with neighbors and friends.
The judges selected Ghostbusters of VA/Main Street Geek as Best in Parade, with an Honorable Mention to the Human Society of Warren County/Neko. Best Walking Group was Allstar Legacy, with an Honorable Mention to Jig n’ Jive Dance Studio. Best Commercial Entry was Timber Works Tree Care, with an Honorable Mention to Fussell Florist. Best Float Youth was Skyline Middle School FFA, with an Honorable mention to Warren County Youth Cheerleading. Best Float Adult-Civic, Church or Business was CBM Mortgage with an Honorable Mention to LifePoint Church. Most Creative was Edward Jones with an Honorable Mention to Explore Art & Clay.
If you missed the Christmas Parade or want to see it again, sit back and enjoy!
Thanks to Photos by Dok for providing this gallery of photos taken during the parade.
A Night to Remember: Front Royal Celebrates the Holidays with Tree Lighting and Joyful Songs
A Night of Music, Community Spirit, and the Magic of Christmas.
The Town of Front Royal transformed into a scene straight out of a Christmas card as the community gathered for a spectacular evening filled with music, joy, and the much-anticipated tree lighting ceremony. The event was made even more special by the melodious presence of the Blue Ridge Singers, the area’s premier choral group, who brought the spirit of the holidays to life through their enchanting performance.
As the chilly evening air buzzed with excitement, the Blue Ridge Singers stepped forward as musical ambassadors. Their performance of classic holiday songs like “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” captivated the audience, with everyone from toddlers to seniors humming and swaying along.
In a heartwarming gesture, the group dedicated songs to the community’s service members, teachers, healthcare workers, and those who lost loved ones this year, adding a layer of emotional depth to the festivities. The event wasn’t just about the music; it was a celebration of community spirit and resilience, especially poignant as the town remembered those who couldn’t join the celebrations.
Mayor Lori Cockrell made welcoming remarks and reminisced of Christmas past. Council members, including Councilman Rappaport, Ingram, Wood, and Councilwoman Domenico-Payne, expressed their awe at the turnout, comparing the vibrancy of the streets to a scene from a Hallmark Christmas movie. The evening was a testament to the small-town charm of Front Royal, showcasing the strength and unity of its community.
The night reached its climax as the crowd eagerly anticipated the arrival of Santa Claus, rumored to have upgraded from his traditional fire truck to a more fuel-efficient sleigh. The arrival of Santa, marked by flashing blue lights, was greeted with cheers, especially from the younger attendees, who were thrilled at the sight of the jolly old man in red.
As the countdown to the tree lighting began, the excitement was palpable. With a collective countdown, the tree burst into a magnificent display of lights, symbolizing the official start of the holiday season in Front Royal. The beautifully decorated tree, a labor of love by the Public Works department, became an instant attraction, drawing families and friends together for memorable photographs.
The evening in Front Royal was more than just a celebration; it was a reminder of the joy, hope, and togetherness that define the holiday season. The Blue Ridge Singers, through their music, not only entertained but also united the community in a shared experience of festive cheer. As the town looks forward to the rest of the holiday season, the tree lighting ceremony will remain a cherished memory, a beacon of the warm and welcoming spirit that makes Front Royal a special place to be during Christmas.
A Festive Evening of Music: American Legion Community Band’s Christmas Concert
Celebrating the Holiday Season with a Free Concert at Randolph-Macon Academy.
Get ready to immerse yourself in the spirit of the holiday season! The American Legion Community Band is set to host a delightful Christmas Concert on Tuesday, December 12, 2023, at 7:30 p.m. This free event, held at the Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy in Front Royal, VA, promises an evening of enchanting music and community celebration.
The concert is a testament to community collaboration and support. The Giles B. Cook Post #53 of the American Legion proudly sponsors the Community Band. The band also extends heartfelt thanks to Randolph-Macon Academy for providing rehearsal space, equipment, and the chapel venue. Additional appreciation goes to Shen Valley Web Hosting for their generosity in hosting the band’s website and to National Media Services for their contributions in designing and printing promotional materials.
Formed in 1986, the American Legion Community Band has been a musical mainstay in Front Royal, offering free concerts and enriching the local cultural landscape. Comprised of volunteer musicians from the area, the band welcomes new members with open arms, fostering a vibrant community of music enthusiasts.
Under the skilled direction of conductors Ed Richards, Ronald Dye, and Mark Malechek, the band’s repertoire spans various genres. From classical pieces to modern works, the audience can expect a blend of traditional and contemporary music, including popular tunes, marches, and operatic overtures.
The band rehearses every Tuesday from 7:30 – 9:00 pm at the Fulton Fine Arts Complex bandroom at Randolph-Macon Academy. Interested musicians are invited to join. The band’s performance season runs from September through July, featuring indoor and outdoor public performances.
The American Legion Community Band’s Christmas Concert is more than just a musical event; it’s a celebration of community, collaboration, and the joy of the holiday season. Mark your calendars for December 12th and join in this festive gathering that is sure to warm hearts and lift spirits.