News in 5: Christmas Town at Busch Gardens returns to celebrate holiday cheer

Plus: Uptown Alley received an incentive grant to move into the former Yankee Candle building, a man was killed after a hit-and-run in Williamsburg and new details have emerged in the UVA shooting.

Good morning!

Now that the rain has cleared up, we can expect the rest of the week to be dry, but quite chilly, according to Meteorologist Myles Henderson of WTKR News 3.

Cold air will remain through the weekend and into early next week, with highs only in the 40s and 50s. Overnight and morning lows will be near freezing each day through Monday.

Also, a quick announcement: Throughout the holiday season, each of The Triangle‘s mid-week newsletters will feature a local small business that offers products or services that can be purchased for gift-giving. If you’d like to nominate a business for consideration, please email me or hit “reply” to this email.

Now to the news.

-Christin

1. Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Williamsburg has returned to brighten the holidays.

  • Christmas Town, a favorite holiday tradition for many, has returned to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It kicked off with a preview weekend beginning Friday, Nov. 11 and will be open on select dates through Jan. 8, 2023.
  • Christmas Town transforms the theme park into one of the biggest light displays in North America. Attendees can enjoy more than 10 million lights, catch a variety of live Christmas-themed shows, ride on the Christmas Town Express train, taste festive foods and shop for unique holiday gifts. More than 20 rides and rollercoasters will also be open.
  • New this year, Busch Gardens has also launched Santa’s Fireside Feast, a dining experience in the Killarney section of the park. Families will be able to enjoy a meal as Santa tells a classic Christmas story. Reservations for the all-you-can-eat dining option can be made online. All diners at Santa’s Fireside Feast will also receive a complimentary 6×8 photo.
  • Several other popular light displays have also opened in Hampton Roads, including WinterFest On the Wisconsin and Garden of Lights at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. Additionally, the Bayport Credit Union Holiday Lights at the Beach display is set to kick off this Friday, Nov. 18, and Celebration in Lights at Newport News Park opens next Thursday, Nov. 24.

Christmas Town has returned to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It will be open on select dates through Jan. 8, 2023. (Photo by Christin Nielsen/The Triangle).

2. Uptown Alley is officially set to take over the former Yankee Candle building in Williamsburg after receiving an incentive grant.

  • Uptown Alley – a family entertainment center and bowling facility based in Richmond – was recently awarded an incentive grant by the City of Williamsburg’s Economic Development Authority. The grant was approved by the City Council during its meeting on Nov. 10.
  • The facility is expected to open in 2023, according to a news release from the City. It will feature upscale bowling and duckpin bowling, an arcade, a chef-driven restaurant and more.
  • The incentive grant is a performance-based, revenue-sharing agreement. The incentive will be capped at $600,000 and will be used for exterior improvements to the building.

“As part of our business recruitment efforts, the City continually studies trends to determine what is missing from the Williamsburg market,” Mayor Douglas Pons said. “Uptown Alley fills a need for more indoor entertainment options in the area. The owners are investing more than $12 million in the project, which will include renovations of one of the City’s largest commercial assets. We are pleased to welcome Uptown Alley to the Williamsburg business community.”

  • Williamsburg will be the fifth location for Uptown Alley. The other locations include Chesterfield, VA; Manassas, VA; Surprise, AZ and Changzhou, China.

Uptown Alley is officially set to move into the former Yankee Candle building on Richmond Road in Williamsburg after receiving an incentive grant from the City of Williamsburg. (Photo by Christin Nielsen/The Triangle).

3. A man was killed in a hit-and-run in Williamsburg over the weekend.

  • A 64-year-old man was killed while trying to cross the street in front of Homewood Suites on Bypass Road in Williamsburg on Saturday, Nov. 12. State police were called to investigate the situation at about 8:15 pm. Some of the man’s personal items could be seen in the roadway before police cleared the scene.
  • The victim was taken to Riverside Regional Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries.
  • An unknown white sedan, traveling in the eastbound lane, struck the man and then drove away, fleeing the scene, according to state police.
  • State police are continuing to investigate the incident and are reaching out to the community for assistance. Anyone who has information about the accident – or witnessed any suspicious behavior – is asked to contact Virginia State Police at [email protected].

A heavy police presence was seen following a fatal hit-and-run accident on Bypass Road in front of Homewood Suites in Williamsburg Saturday night. (Photo by Christin Nielsen/The Triangle).

4. The UVA community is mourning the loss of three students as new information is revealed about the suspect.

  • The suspected gunman in a shooting at the University of Virginia had been on a field trip with the victims before he opened fire on them, a UVA spokesperson announced Tuesday. Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., 22, was on the bus returning from Washington, D.C, where the class had attended a play, spokesman Brian Coy said. According to police, Jones, a former member of the school’s football team, shot and killed three current team members.
  • Two other students were also injured in the shooting. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, those two students have been identified as Marlee Morgan and Mike Hollins, Jr.
    • Morgan was discharged from the hospital, while Hollins underwent surgery Tuesday morning and is said to be recovering well.
  • The deceased victims have been identified as Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry. Police are still trying to determine what could have led Jones to kill the three fellow students. Family members and loved ones of Jones say the student was having a hard time in school and was bullied after he left the football team, according to WTKR News 3.

UVA football players, from left to right, Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D’Sean Perry were killed tragically on Sunday evening. (UVA Athletics photos).

“These precious young men were called away too soon,” said Tony Elliott, first-year head football coach at UVA. “We are all fortunate to have them be a part of our lives. They touched us, inspired us and worked incredibly hard as representatives of our program.”

  • Jones was arrested Monday morning. He faces three counts of second-degree murder and using a handgun in the commission of a felony. He also faces two counts of malicious wounding.
    • Jones will make his first court appearance Wednesday in Albermarle General District Court and is expected to appear by video link, according to Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney James M. Hingeley.
  • Governor Glenn Youngkin visited a makeshift memorial at the university on Tuesday and was visibly emotional. “It’s just horrific; there’s no other way to describe it,” he said.
  • In a sign of solidarity, colleges and universities throughout Virginia – including the College of William & Mary – lit up their buildings in blue and orange, the colors of the UVA Cavaliers. William & Mary shared a photo of their historic walls illuminated in UVA’s palette, writing in a social media post, “Our hearts are with UVA. Tonight, we are all Hoos.”

The walls of William & Mary were illuminated in orange and blue – the color palette of the Virginia Cavaliers – in solidarity with UVA following Sunday’s tragic shooting deaths. (Photo by Christin Nielsen/The Triangle).

  • At Christopher Newport University, students gathered for a candlelight vigil Monday night in memory of the UVA victims. Interim President Adelia Thompson released a statement saying the CNU community is “heartbroken” by the shooting. “We hold the members of our sister institution close in our hearts as they deal with this senseless act of violence. The horrifying loss touches us all,” Thompson said.

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Local Covid-19 Update

VDH reports that an additional 6,962 people in Virginia tested positive for Covid-19 last week (down from 7,324 cases reported during the previous week). An additional 122 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Virginia last week (up from 146 the week before), and ten more Covid-19-related deaths were also reported (down from 33 reported the week before). All counties on the Peninsula are currently ranked as having “low” community transmission, according to the CDC’s updated map released on Nov. 10. VDH reports the cumulative number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths for each health district here.

In the National News

  • Possible Russian Missile Hits Poland: A missile struck Poland Wednesday amid Russian bombardment of Ukraine, encroaching into NATO territory. The missile landed in Polish farmland, killing two people, according to the AP. While the incident quickly sparked worldwide fears of escalation, Poland announced Wednesday that there is “no indication” that the missile was an intentional attack.
  • Trump Launches 2024 Bid: Former President Donald Trump announced his bid to re-win the presidency in 2024. “In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” he said Tuesday night before a crowd gathered at Mar-a-Lago. If elected, he would become the second U.S president ever elected to serve two non-consecutive terms.
  • Republicans Expected to Win House; Democrats Projected to Take Senate: The Republicans are expected to regain control of the U.S House after Republican Ken Calvert won re-election in California’s 41st district Tuesday night. Decision Desk HQ projects that Republicans will hold at least 219 seats, one more than the minimum required to control the House. Democrats have claimed 205 seats so far. Meanwhile, the Democrats are projected to retain control over the Senate after securing 50 seats Saturday, CBS News reports.

Events This Week

Missed this week’s community calendar of upcoming events? You can find it here.

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