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How to impersonate Santa

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Do you plan to dress up as Santa Claus this year? Whether it’s to raise money for charity or make a surprise appearance at a holiday party, you’ll want to give a compelling performance. Here’s how to nail the part.

The look
Santa is an iconic figure, and most children have seen him plenty of times on TV, in books, and at the mall. This means you need to get the costume right, from the classic red cap and a long, white beard down to the fur-trimmed black boots. Details like a plump belly, white gloves, a gold belt buckle, and round reading glasses are key to a credible impersonation.

The voice

Santa’s booming laugh is instantly recognizable, and imitating it is the perfect way to announce your arrival as this legendary figure. To ensure you make a good first impression, spend some time rehearsing your Santa laugh. You’ll also need to get used to speaking in a deep, jovial voice that’ll command attention but won’t frighten young children.

The attitude
The trickiest part about dressing up as this larger-than-life figure is staying in character. Be prepared to answer questions from curious youngsters about your sleigh, reindeer, and life at the North Pole. If a child is reluctant to approach you, crouch down to be less intimidating and let them come to you.

Good luck and Merry Christmas!

Reserve your Santa suit early
To make sure you look the part, buy or rent everything you need from a costume store in your region. Remember, Santa is a popular guy around the holidays, so don’t wait!

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3 extraordinary marriage proposals to inspire you

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Have you decided to ask your partner to marry you? If you’re wondering how to make sure the moment is perfect, here are three incredible stories of how people popped the question. (Spoiler alert: they all said yes!)

1. Filmmaker Lee Loechler took his high school sweetheart, Sthuthi David, to a special screening of Sleeping Beauty in the Boston area. Toward the end of the film, as the prince approached the sleeping princess, the animation changed to feature characters who resembled Lee and Sthuthi. After waking her with a kiss and holding out a ring, the cartoon prince Lee tossed the ring box off-screen for his real-life self to catch. Lee got down on one knee and, in front of friends and family members who’d been sitting at the back of the theater, he asked Sthuthi to marry him.

2. Politician Tim Wilson delivered a speech on the floor of the Australian parliament in favor of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. The bill had passed the senate the previous week and was being debated in the lower house. As the member of the parliament concluded his speech, he turned his attention to the public gallery where his long-time fiancé, Ryan Patrick Bolger, was sitting. The couple had been engaged for nearly a decade but were unable to make it official. Tim looked up at Ryan and proposed once again. The bill passed and, three months later, the couple married.

3. Inspired by videos of flash mobs she’d seen online, Isabelle Marin put together an elaborate performance for her partner, Jean-François Dumais, at a shopping mall in the Quebec City region. A violinist serenaded him in the food court and a dance troupe performed in the atrium. Friends and family members emerged from the gathering crowd to hand Jean-François roses. Then, as a local singer (and friend) Mélissa Bédard belted out a ballad, Isabelle made her entrance on an escalator and got down on one knee.

If there’s one thing to take away from these stories, it’s that you can be as creative and theatrical as you want during a proposal — the important thing is to give it your personal touch.

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6 ways to protest against racial injustice

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As the leader of the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. organized a number of peaceful protests throughout the 1950s and 60s to end racial discrimination and segregation in the United States. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which falls on January 18 this year, here are six ways to protest against the ongoing racial injustice in this country.

1. Educate yourself using the abundance of books, articles, podcasts, and movies available on racism and racial justice, and learn how you can affect change.

2. Volunteer for a local organization that seeks to address issues in your community that disproportionately affect African Americans such as food insecurity and under-funded schools.

3. Sign petitions demanding racial justice, write to your local officials to advocate for policy changes, and start conversations about race with the people in your life.

4. Attend a demonstration calling for an end to police brutality and systemic racism. You can also join an aid group that provides supplies and assistance to protestors.

5. Donate money to bail funds and organizations led by people of color that are pushing for change. If you’re an artist, you can sell your work and donate the proceeds.

6. Support black-owned businesses to help shrink the racial wealth gap and foster job creation for people of color.

For more information about how you can fight against racial injustice in your community, reach out to local organizations.

Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest. — Martin Luther King Jr., 1967

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Martin Luther King, Jr.: Those who knew him grow old; the promise lives

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The people who heard Martin Luther King, Jr. speak in person, or live on the television or radio–those people have grown old.

Is time that those old people ask the young: Have you heard his speech? Have you read about Martin Luther King’s dream? Did you read his Mountaintop speech?

Any of King’s speeches evoke spirit and truth, but one speech shines out for its hopeful and, in retrospect, its chilling words.

That is the Mountaintop speech, given April 3, 1968, at the Church of Christ in Memphis, Tenn.

In this speech, King mused that if given any time in history, he would have chosen that moment, that very day above all others. He spoke about the great and pivotal hour for the country and the world as all confronted injustice.

Then, he remembers his brush with death years before when he was stabbed and how close he came to missing that day.

And then he proclaims that he has seen the Promised Land:

“We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop… Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But
I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!”

The next day, on April 4, 1968, King was assassinated.

King’s words, later recalled, send a shiver through hearts and minds. Those words are worth recalling even 53 years later, that one was led by God to the mountaintop, and he saw the promised future of his people fulfilled.

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Ice fishing: tips for a successful day

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Ice fishing is a great way to relieve stress, reconnect with nature, and enjoy your own company or that of your fishing buddies. Whether you’re ready to go or still waiting for the ice to thicken, here are a few tips that will help guarantee you have a good experience.

Check the regulations
Before you head out, make sure you have the necessary permits and that you’re allowed to fish in the intended area. You also need to be familiar with the catch and possession limits for various species. Having this information will allow you to avoid unpleasant surprises and ensure that your activities are legal.

Check the conditions

Take into consideration the weather and ice conditions before you decide if you’ll be fishing in a shack or simply out on the ice. Mother Nature can be unpredictable, and without the right gear, you may have to turn back before you make your first catch.

Check your equipment
Many parks and lodges offer all-inclusive ice fishing packages. In this case, all you need to bring are your warm clothes and plenty of enthusiasm. However, if you have your own equipment, you’ll want to assess its condition before you head out. Visit hunting and fishing shops in your area if any of your gear is damaged or needs to be replaced.

Following these tips will ensure that once you drill your holes, you’ll be able to relax, unwind, and fully enjoy the ice fishing experience.

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How to safely watch wildlife in winter

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If you spend time exploring the outdoors this winter, you might cross paths with hares, foxes, deer, and other wildlife. Here’s how you can observe these creatures safely (and comfortably) without disturbing them.

Act appropriately
It’s important to always treat wildlife with caution and respect. If an animal reacts to your presence, you’re too close. Since these creatures need to conserve energy to stay warm in winter, startling them causes undue stress. In fact, keeping your distance is as much for their safety as it is for yours.

Dress appropriately

It’s best to wear layers and opt for breathable fabrics when you engage in outdoor winter activities. Keep in mind that you won’t produce as much body heat when you’re standing still to watch wildlife. You’ll also want to have binoculars or a camera to make the most of your sigh-ting. However, keep in mind that drones shouldn’t be used around wild animals.

If you want to reconnect with nature this season, look for places where you can hike, snowshoe, and cross-country ski in your area.

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Time to learn a second language? Bienvenido! Language apps await

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Let’s be honest. Despite what online language apps tell you, a year of online learning won’t qualify you as fluent in a language.

But here is the good news: You could manage enough useful language for travel, business or visiting with people in different countries. But chances are that you won’t successfully converse about the philosophy of Kant.

Still, there are good choices out there for learning a second language.

One of the senior language resources is Rosetta Stone and it is well worth a first look. It offers a free three-day course with no credit card needed. Of all the online apps, Rosetta Stone seems best at starting you at the right level. If you have a passing familiarity with Spanish, for example, you probably don’t need to start at “hola.” And Rosetta Stone won’t put you there.

Like every online app, it isn’t obvious at first how to use the question-and-answer modules. That seems true for every app and you will get a few instructions in English. But users will quickly get the hang of the app’s interface.

Trending among language apps are Duolingo, Memrise, and Babbel.

Duolingo and Memrise both work on the idea of spaced repetition for better memorization. Rosetta Stone and Babbel may seem more immersive–at least in the beginning.

All the apps have combinations of flashcards and listening exercises. Rosetta Stone features a listen-respond tableau with every lesson. Memrise offers its Learn With Locals videos that demonstrate a new phrase.

Babbel focuses on conversational examples to show the context of words and phrases. It also has a speech recognition feature designed to give you confidence in actually speaking the language.

Memrise is unique in that about 90 percent of its course offering is free. You can buy the pro package, which is supposed to be helpful, especially as you progress. It also has a social element with a leaderboard, which has actually been controversial since some people hacked their way up the board. This is why we can’t have anything nice.

Duolingo calculates your streak in coming back to the app and its little bird mascot regularly (and somewhat infamously) exhorts your participation.

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Upcoming Events

Jan
29
Fri
12:30 pm Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Edu... @ Online Event
Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Edu... @ Online Event
Jan 29 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education @ Online Event
Save a Life: Free REVIVE! Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education January 29th The Northwestern Prevention Collaborative and Northwestern Community Services Board will offer a free virtual REVIVE! Training on January 29th from 12:30 pm to[...]
Jan
30
Sat
2:00 pm Paint Camellias with The Studio @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Paint Camellias with The Studio @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Jan 30 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Paint Camellias with The Studio @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
We will paint these beautiful camellias on Saturday, January 30th at 2 pm at The Studio. This will be the first in a series of floral paintings we will do over the course of 2021.[...]
6:00 pm Parent’s Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Parent’s Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Jan 30 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Parent's Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Help Code Ninjas Front Royal celebrate our Grand Opening! We are hosting our first Parent’s Night Out! $35 per child, space limited to 5! – Drop them off. Go have fun. Just remember to pick[...]
6:00 pm Robert Burns Night 2021 @ Virginia Beer Museum
Robert Burns Night 2021 @ Virginia Beer Museum
Jan 30 @ 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Robert Burns Night 2021 @ Virginia Beer Museum
Known in medieval Celtic culture as a storyteller, verse maker, and composer, the word ‘Bard’ has become synonymous with the world’s greatest poets. However, few are as celebrated as Scotland’s own ‘National Bard’, Robert Burns,[...]
Feb
9
Tue
10:00 am Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Feb 9 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
The Warren Coalition, in partnership with Northwestern Prevention Collaborative, will offer area residents two opportunities to take a free, virtual Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training in February. This course is designed to provide information about identifying[...]
Feb
11
Thu
6:30 pm Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Feb 11 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
The Warren Coalition, in partnership with Northwestern Prevention Collaborative, will offer area residents two opportunities to take a free, virtual Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training in February. This course is designed to provide information about identifying[...]
Feb
13
Sat
6:00 pm Parent’s Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Parent’s Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Feb 13 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Parent's Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Help Code Ninjas Front Royal celebrate our Grand Opening! We are hosting our first Parent’s Night Out! $35 per child, space limited to 5! – Drop them off. Go have fun. Just remember to pick[...]
Feb
15
Mon
9:00 am Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Feb 15 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free tax preparation will be available again this year through the AARP Tax Aide at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Front Royal, Monday and Wednesday mornings beginning Feb. 15th. To make an appointment, please call[...]
Feb
16
Tue
10:00 am Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Feb 16 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
The Warren Coalition, in partnership with Northwestern Prevention Collaborative, will offer area residents two opportunities to take a free, virtual Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training in February. This course is designed to provide information about identifying[...]
Feb
17
Wed
9:00 am Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Feb 17 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free tax preparation will be available again this year through the AARP Tax Aide at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Front Royal, Monday and Wednesday mornings beginning Feb. 15th. To make an appointment, please call[...]