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Town Talk: A conversation with Michal Ashby and Erin Rooney, Samuels Public Library – November Activities



November Brings an Exciting Array of Programs for Patrons of All Ages.

The atmosphere was nothing short of electric at the Royal Examiner studio when Erin Rooney and Machal Ashby, affectionately termed the “library ladies,” dropped by to discuss the tantalizing programs lined up for Samuels Public Library in November.

While Samuels Public Library consistently offers a range of recurring events, such as book clubs and genealogy meetups, this month’s unique offerings are sure to pique the interest of Warren County residents.

First on the list is an intriguing virtual program titled “Eggnog, Fruitcake, and Holiday Treats.” Hosted by members of the Friends of the Library organization, this session will unveil cherished family recipes perfect for the holiday season. Patrons can expect to learn about old-fashioned aged eggnog, traditional fruitcakes, and other festive delicacies. With registrations on, the session promises to turn a regular Thursday evening on November 9th into a delightful culinary adventure.

For history enthusiasts and the perpetually curious, there’s a riveting presentation on “Jasper Ridge: Documenting a 13,000-Year-Old Archaeological Site near Front Royal.” Taking center stage on Saturday, November 18th, this talk will transport attendees back in time, introducing them to the newly discovered part of the Flint Run and Thunderbird complex in Warren County. The unique Jasper stone outcroppings and their significance in crafting ancient tools will be a focal point. Moreover, attendees are invited to bring artifacts from their properties for identification – a veritable treasure hunt experience.

While these are the spotlight events, there’s no shortage of activities for the younger patrons. In a nod to the month’s theme, gardening programs are available, including “Wee Sprouts” for preschoolers and “Elementary Green Thumbs,” focusing on the wonders of multicolored calico corn. Art enthusiasts can look forward to “Aspiring Artists” on November 4th, which promises to add a touch of creativity to the holiday season.

Additionally, the air of festivity will not be confined to November alone. Erin dropped a tantalizing hint about a grand holiday open house slated for December 16th at Samuels Public Library. A day dedicated to crafts, stories, Christmas music, and other festivities awaits patrons.

To top it off, the library is also hosting a Holiday Writing Contest. The crescendo of entries promises a compelling anthology, which is expected to be an award-winning piece, given the collaboration with National Media Services and the Royal Oak Bookstore.

With such a vibrant array of events and activities, it’s evident that the Samuels Library is not just a haven for books but a bustling community hub.

For a complete listing of all the activities at Samuels Public Library, click here to visit their website.

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Town Talk

Vietnam Veteran Shares Tale of Grit and Brotherhood



Tom LaCombe Reflects on His Time in Vietnam and the Unbreakable Bonds Formed.

In a moving interview, Tom Lacombe, a Vietnam War veteran and the proprietor of the OJ Rudacille General Store in Browntown, Virginia, shared his experiences from one of the most tumultuous periods in American history. His story is one of resilience in the face of adversity and the unspoken bonds forged in the heat of battle.

Called to serve during the Vietnam War, LaCombe found himself in the thick of action as an infantryman in the Army’s 4th Infantry Division. His days were filled with grueling search-and-destroy missions along the treacherous Cambodian border. Lacombe recalls the intensity and brutality of these operations, highlighting the physical and psychological toll they took on him and his fellow soldiers.

Among the harrowing tales, Lacombe recounted the tragic loss of his comrade, Ziggy, whose seemingly minor injury led to an unexpected fatality. These moments of loss and survival deeply impacted him, etching into his memory the fragility and value of life in war.

Yet, amidst the hardships, Lacombe also recalls moments of profound human connection. He shared a particularly touching memory of a fellow soldier sharing water during a challenging mission, a simple act that forged an immediate and lasting bond. These instances of camaraderie amidst chaos became beacons of hope and humanity.

Returning home, Lacombe, like many Vietnam veterans, faced a nation divided and often indifferent to their sacrifices. This led him to conceal his military past for years, a silence shared by many veterans of the era. It wasn’t until much later in life that Lacombe and others like him began to open up about their experiences, driven by a desire to share their stories and ensure they are not forgotten.

Today, LaCombe maintains a strong connection with fellow veterans, sharing a bond that transcends the specific details of each individual’s service. “They’re like brothers,” he says, reflecting on the deep kinship he feels with others who have shared the military experience, regardless of where or when they served.

Tom Lacombe’s journey through the Vietnam War and beyond is a poignant reminder of the complexities of military service and the enduring impact of war on those who serve. His experiences, captured in his book “Light Ruck,” offer a personal glimpse into a critical moment in history and underscore the importance of peace and understanding. Lacombe’s story is not just his own; it is a testament to the shared experiences of many veterans who have yet to tell their tales.

Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea topic or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to


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Town Talk

Samuels Library Brings Festive Cheer with December Activities and Exhibits



A Month Packed with Parades, Learning, and Community Engagement.

As December unfolds, Samuels Public Library in Front Royal bursts into a hive of festive and educational activities. From participating in the local parade to hosting a range of programs for all ages, the library is a focal point for community spirit and learning. Michal Ashby and Erin Rooney, key figures from the library, share an exciting lineup of events for the month.

The library kicks off December with a bang, participating in the local parade on December 2. With a surprise theme in store, the team at Samuels Library is set to add sparkle to the community event.

The library’s dedication to early childhood development shines through with its Music and Movement programs every Monday. Aimed at babies and toddlers, these sessions blend songs and yoga movements, fostering pre-literacy skills in a fun and engaging environment.

Homeschoolers aren’t left out, with the Homeschool Hub every other Tuesday focusing on science-based learning. Simultaneously, Science Scouts sessions are designed to spark young minds’ curiosity.

A unique collaboration with the Sheriff’s Department brings ‘Read with the Sheriff’ to the library on December 13th. This initiative is part of community policing efforts, creating a bridge between law enforcement and young residents.

Teen engagement is a priority; with special events like Teens Connect meeting monthly, local teenagers are encouraged to voice their opinions on future programs through a suggestion box, ensuring the library’s offerings resonate with their interests.

The library also celebrates the creativity of its patrons through the Holiday Writing Contest. A special reception honors the winners, where their works are shared, and the event is augmented by a professional publishing collaboration. This initiative is supported by a grant from Rappahannock Electric and the Royal Oak Bookstore.

The holiday spirit continues with the library’s festive open house. Different departments contribute to the event, creating a day filled with activities. Highlights include a special story time with Santa, a craft session, and musical events set in a beautifully decorated library environment.

For adults, there’s plenty to enjoy, too. December features the final program in collaboration with Shenandoah River State Park, focusing on winter photography. The Bad Romance special holiday edition offers a chance for book lovers to swap their favorite reads in a festive atmosphere.

A significant highlight is the traveling exhibit from the Library of Virginia, showcasing the Lantz Mills Deaf Village. This exhibit, supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Sorenson Foundation, explores the history of a shared signing community in Virginia. An Intro to American Sign Language program on December 14th complements this insightful exhibit.

Samuels Public Library’s December schedule is a testament to its role as a community hub, offering diverse activities catering to all age groups. From educational programs to festive celebrations, the library is more than just a place for books; it’s a vibrant center for community engagement and learning.

Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied, but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to

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Town Talk

Front Royal’s Vision for Youth: Reaching Out Now Spearheads Community Engagement and Development



Creating a Hub for Youth Empowerment and Community Involvement.

In an insightful discussion with Mike McCool at the Royal Examiner Studio, Sam Barber and Claire Schmitt from Reaching Out Now shared exciting plans for community engagement and the development of the Youth Center in Front Royal. Their vision is to foster a space that resonates with the needs and aspirations of local youth while actively involving the community.

A Community Gathering for a Cause

The team at Reaching Out Now is orchestrating a holiday meet-and-greet event scheduled for December 9th, from 2 to 5 pm, at Honey and Hops. This event allows community members to engage in meaningful conversations about the Youth Center and its impact. A renowned local guitarist, Joe Martin, will enhance the event with live music, showcasing community spirit and collaboration.

Building the Youth Center: A Collaborative Effort

The Youth Center, a project close to the hearts of Barber, Schmitt, and their colleagues, aims to be more than just a physical space. It is envisioned as a haven where youth can express their ideas and participate in activities that foster their growth. This initiative is fueled by a capital campaign seeking to raise significant funds and resources, including items on a wish list provided by the students themselves.

Listening to the Youth: Shaping the Future Together

The organizers have taken an inclusive approach by sending surveys to high schools, allowing students to voice their desires for the Youth Center. From wanting ping pong tables to requesting tutoring services, the feedback has been instrumental in shaping the center’s offerings. This endeavor aligns with the broader goal of giving youth a sense of ownership and voice in their community.

Expanding Community Engagement: Beyond the Youth Center

Reaching Out Now’s commitment extends beyond the Youth Center. They have actively engaged in school community programs, such as the ‘Better Together Family Outings,’ which includes a series of themed events like the upcoming ‘Holiday Cheer and Giving’ at Warren County Middle School on December 13th. These events are inclusive, catering to all families in the community, not just the underserved.

The Future of Front Royal’s Youth Center

Looking ahead, the Youth Center, fondly referred to as the Student Union by students, is set to become a vibrant hub for activities, learning, and community building. It aims to cater to diverse young people, including those not inclined towards athletics, offering them a safe and engaging environment.

Reaching Out Now’s efforts in developing the Youth Center and organizing community events exemplify a profound commitment to youth empowerment and community solidarity in Front Royal. Their vision is a testament to the power of collaborative community efforts in shaping a brighter future for young people.

Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied, but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to

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Town Talk

Front Royal Welcomes New Councilman Glenn Wood: A Journey from Campaign to Council



A Fresh Perspective on Local Governance.

Glenn Wood, the newly elected councilman of Front Royal, sat down with Mike McCool in the Royal Examiner studio to discuss his recent election journey and his vision for the town. Having knocked on over 2,000 doors during his campaign, Wood brings a fresh perspective, fueled by direct community interactions, to the local government.

From Door-to-Door Campaigning to Council Chambers

Glenn Wood’s election campaign was marked by an extensive door-to-door outreach, engaging with a significant portion of Front Royal’s residents. This hands-on approach allowed him to gather first-hand insights into the community’s concerns and aspirations. Wood’s campaign emphasized personal connection, leaving notes for those he missed showing a dedication to reach every constituent.

Planning for a Collaborative Future

With a history of service on the Planning Commission, Wood aims to leverage his experience to address Front Royal’s growth and development challenges. He plans to continue serving on the Planning Commission for another year, subject to council approval, to provide stability and insight into the town’s planning and zoning initiatives. He focuses on fostering housing development and handling the challenges of the town’s continuous growth.

Working Together for a Unified Community

Wood emphasizes the importance of collaboration between the town and county, highlighting the mutual benefits of a unified approach. He recognizes the need for joint efforts in areas like water and sewer services, job creation, and retail development. His vision includes tackling challenges collaboratively, aiming for win-win scenarios for the town and the county.

Youth Engagement and Social Development

A key project Wood is excited about is the development of the Santmyers Youth Center, a venture that aims to provide a space for the socialization and development of Front Royal’s youth. This project, spearheaded by Reaching Out Now, reflects Wood’s commitment to creating opportunities for the younger generation, especially in the aftermath of the social disruptions caused by COVID-19.

Gratitude and Looking Forward

In his closing remarks, Wood expressed his gratitude to his supporters, including his wife Amy, campaign manager Tom Eshelman, friends, family, and the voters of Front Royal. He emphasized his commitment to being an accessible and responsive council member, inviting ongoing community input as he embarks on his term.


Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied, but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to

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A Warm Embrace: The Community’s Effort to Shelter and Support the Homeless



Local Organizations and Volunteers Rally for Thermal Shelter’s Winter Mission.

As the chill of winter approaches, the community gears up for a vital mission: providing warmth and support to those in need. The Thermal Shelter, a beacon of hope for the homeless, is set to open its doors again, reflecting a story of compassion, collaboration, and community effort.

This year, the shelter anticipates an early opening on December 2nd, coinciding with the festive spirit of the Christmas parade. Compared to last year, an extension of service to 18 weeks indicates a deeper commitment to aiding the homeless during the colder months.

The shelter, located at the Front Royal Presbyterian Church, has been a haven of safety and comfort. The church’s ample space and welcoming environment have been crucial in sustaining this initiative. However, challenges like adequate volunteer availability, especially for tasks like laundry, remain a pressing need. The shelter calls for community members to volunteer time for essential services, emphasizing the need for weekend volunteers.

The community’s involvement doesn’t end there. Local organizations like the Front Royal Rotary, Masons, and various churches have pledged support through meal provisions and volunteer work. The Elks, often working behind the scenes, have been instrumental in their contributions. Their efforts highlight the shelter’s significance in fostering a spirit of unity and social responsibility within the community.

Financial donations, always a necessity, are encouraged. The shelter, undergoing a name change to ‘Hope and Rest Temporary Shelter’ (HARTS), aims to broaden its mission beyond just thermal assistance. This rebranding symbolizes the shelter’s aspirations to potentially include summer cooling services, reflecting an evolving and expanding community role.

The shelter’s operation is not just providing a roof and a warm meal. It’s about holistic support, addressing various needs of the homeless. Collaborations with the Department of Social Services (DSS) help connect individuals with essential services like Medicaid and SNAP. Efforts extend to providing tents and sleeping bags during warmer months, signifying a year-round commitment to the unhoused.

Despite the challenges, there’s a sense of optimism and determination. The shelter, now in its several years of operation, has witnessed increasing community involvement and support. Last year, it served 85 individuals, and with predictions of a colder winter, the numbers are expected to rise. This underscores the shelter’s critical role in the community, especially in times of hardship.

As the shelter prepares to open its doors, it stands as a testament to the power of community effort and compassion. It’s more than just a shelter; it’s a symbol of hope and a reminder of our collective responsibility to support those in need. In the season of giving, the community’s embrace of the shelter’s mission exemplifies the true spirit of togetherness and compassion.

For more information, visit

Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied, but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to

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Town Talk

Shop, Win, and Celebrate: Front Royal’s 12 Days of Christmas Shopping Extravaganza



Local Businesses Unite for a Festive Shopping Adventure with Exciting Prizes!

Welcome to Front Royal’s holiday season highlight – the “12 Days of Christmas” shopping event! From December 2nd to 14th, twelve cherished local businesses are joining forces to sprinkle extra cheer and excitement into your Christmas shopping. This isn’t just about finding the perfect gifts; it’s a chance to win big while supporting your favorite local shops!

The concept is simple yet thrilling. For every $25 spent at any of the participating stores, shoppers earn an entry into a grand draw. But there’s more – spend over $25; each additional $5 gets you another entry. Imagine spending $35 and snagging three chances to win!

To get your entries, just take your receipts to the Visitors Center. The anticipation will peak on December 15th, when twelve lucky winners will be drawn, each walking away with a gift from one of the businesses.

Who are these generous businesses? They’re the heart and soul of Front Royal’s shopping scene:

  1. Main Street Geek – A haven for all things geeky.
  2. Dusty’s – Where vintage meets modern flair.
  3. Ole Timers – A touch of nostalgia in every purchase.
  4. Penny Lane Hair Co – Styling Front Royal, one haircut at a time.
  5. Front Royal Wines – For the wine enthusiasts.
  6. Main Street Mill – A delightful blend of history and taste.
  7. Fleetwood Vintage – Where the past is always in style.
  8. Mountain Trails – Gear up for your next adventure.
  9. Buckle & Belle Boutique – Chic and trendy fashion finds.
  10. Down Home Comfort Bakery – Sweet treats that feel like home.
  11. Dogwood Decor – For that unique home aesthetic.
  12. White Picket Fence – Classic charm for every home.

But the festive season in Front Royal isn’t limited to shopping. Mark your calendars for more upcoming events! November 24th is Local Comic Book Shop Day – a must for comic fans. The following day, November 25th, is Shop Small Day, celebrating our local businesses. December starts with a bang with the Christmas parade and Merry Market on the 2nd.

Don’t miss the grand opening of Penny Lane Hair Co on December 8th, complete with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. For a dash of holiday magic, join the community for Pictures with Santa at the Gazebo on December 9th, sponsored by Warren County Rotary, White Picket Fence, and Penny Lane Hair Co.

The “12 Days of Christmas” event is more than a shopping spree; it’s a community celebration. By participating, you’re not just bagging a chance to win delightful prizes but also supporting the local businesses that define the unique character of Front Royal. So, let’s step out, shop, and make this holiday season memorable!

Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied, but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to

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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:


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

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
7:18 am4:50 pm EST
Feels like: 45°F
Wind: 0mph NNE
Humidity: 63%
Pressure: 30.16"Hg
UV index: 1
59°F / 46°F
61°F / 34°F
41°F / 25°F

Upcoming Events

8:00 am Breakfast with Santa @ Rivermont Volunteer Fire Department
Breakfast with Santa @ Rivermont Volunteer Fire Department
Dec 9 @ 8:00 am – 11:00 am
Breakfast with Santa @ Rivermont Volunteer Fire Department
Rivermont Volunteer Fire Department is having a Breakfast with Santa on Saturday, December 9th, from 8:00 a.m.- 11:00 a.m. Adults are $10.00 Kids are $5.00 Children 5 and under are free!
12:00 pm Christmas Lunch for Kids, Vets a... @ Front Royal Elks Lodge
Christmas Lunch for Kids, Vets a... @ Front Royal Elks Lodge
Dec 9 @ 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Christmas Lunch for Kids, Vets and Seniors @ Front Royal Elks Lodge
The Front Royal Elks Lodge will hold it’s annual Holiday Lunch for Kids, Veterans and Seniors on Saturday, December 9. Festivities will begin at 12 noon. Mr. and Mrs. Clause are said to be coming!
4:30 pm Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Dec 9 @ 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Discover our International Dark-Sky Park! Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and light conservation. Then join NASA’s Jet Propulsion[...]
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[...]
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[...]
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:[...]