News in 5: Williamsburg woman's popular 'Santa Boxes' return for 2022 holiday season

Plus: Grand Illumination kicks off this weekend at CW, James City County Parks & Rec earned six top honors and a Newport News man is suing the police department over claims of brutal treatment.

Good morning!

Rain is expected to continue into the afternoon today, followed by a cold front, according to Meteorologist Myles Henderson of WTKR News 3.

The sun will return tomorrow, but the highs will only be in the upper 40s. While warmer weather is on the way for the weekend, scattered showers will be possible on Saturday as another cold front moves in. Sunday should be sunnier but cooler.

A quick reminder: Today is the last day to enter The Triangle‘s giveaway to win two free tickets to the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming Holiday Pops Concerts. The concerts will be held this weekend, December 3 & 4. If you missed my announcement about the giveaway, you can read it here. To enter to win, simply reply to this email and tell me why you’d like to go to the show. The deadline to respond is Wednesday, November 30 by midnight, and all who reply will be entered to win. The show is great for the whole family, and tickets can be purchased online.

Now to the news.


Local Business of the Week: Daisy’s Gift Baskets

The Triangle is highlighting a different small business each week throughout the holiday season, focusing on those that offer seasonal products, gifts or services. This week’s featured business is Daisy’s Gift Baskets.

Williamsburg-based resident Candace Masengale is once again offering a variety of unique, handmade gifts for the 2022 holiday season.

Masengale founded her small business, Daisy’s Gift Baskets, after being furloughed during the lockdowns of 2020. Since then, she has grown the company significantly and was hardly able to keep pace with the high demand for orders she received last Christmas season, she says.

A custom Christmas basket created by Masengale.

Masengale has long had a love for crafting. She naturally gravitated toward making custom gift baskets, particularly because of the joy such gifts bring to their recipients.

Among her most popular offerings is a gift basket for children called the “Santa Box,” which features a personalized musical Santa toy, holiday arts and crafts ornaments, magical reindeer food and candy canes. The boxes currently cost just $35, and additional children can be added to the same box for $15 each.

“I wanted to create something that the elves or Santa would really send to a child,” Masengale told The Triangle.

Masengale hand delivers orders to local residents for free or ships upon request. Santa boxes will be shipped out on December 16.

A variety of holiday-themed gift baskets for adults are available, too, and many are customizable.

New this year, Masengale is also offering personalized, embroidered stockings for the whole family – including pets. Other available products include holiday sweatshirts, t-shirts and aprons; photo ornaments and handmade holiday wreaths.

Masengale recently joined the Greater Williamsburg Chamber of Commerce and looks forward to “continuing to create wonderful new gifts” in the future.

For more information or to purchase a custom item from Daisy’s Baskets, visit Masengale also maintains an active presence on her Facebook page, where she shares additional information about her products, communicates with customers and answers questions.

Candace Masengale.

Local News

1. Grand Illumination kicks off this weekend at Colonial Williamsburg.

  • Grand Illumination is set to return for three consecutive Saturdays this December, starting this Saturday, December 3. The longstanding seasonal tradition, which ushers in the Christmas season each year in Williamsburg, is free and open to the public. The expanded three-day schedule debuted last year, replacing the one-night event that took place for decades before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Grand Illumination has been a Colonial Williamsburg institution for more than 85 years, and we are grateful to our community and to our guests for the privilege of playing a significant role in their holiday celebrations for generations,” said Cliff Fleet, president and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “Last year’s expansion of Grand Illumination to three nights was incredibly well received by our community, and Colonial Williamsburg, in partnership with the City of Williamsburg, is delighted to reprise the expanded schedule this year.”

  • Each night of Grand Illumination will feature seasonal music, storytelling on Palace Green, the lighting of the cressets, a special appearance by Father Christmas and a procession led by the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes & Drums. A vibrant fireworks display will cap off the evening. The event will be held this year on December 3, 10 and 17 from 5:00 – 7:30 pm.
  • Holiday festivities will continue to take place throughout the season at Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area, Merchants Square and the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. For additional details, see Colonial Williamsburg’s 2022 Holiday Planner and follow Colonial Williamsburg on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Grand Illumination, a local tradition that dates back 85 years, will kick off this weekend at Colonial Williamsburg. The beloved seasonal event will be held on three consecutive Saturdays again this year: December 3,10 and 17, from 5:00 – 7:30 pm. (Photo courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg).

2. James City County Parks & Recreation earned six top honors at a state conference.

  • James City County’s Parks & Recreation department was presented with six formal awards at the Virginia Recreation & Park Society’s 68th Annual Conference held in November in Virginia Beach.
    • Over 400 delegates from across the state attended the conference, which honors individuals, departments and organizations throughout Virginia that have demonstrated excellence in the past year.
  • Judged by a jury of peers, the department received top honors in multiple categories, including Best New Environmental Sustainability, Best New Program, Most Creative Marketing Piece, Most Creative Marketing Strategy and Snapshot Moment.
  • The department’s assistant director, Arlana Fauntleroy, also received the prestigious Fellows Award, which is only given out to one recipient annually.
  • James City County Parks and Recreation was recognized for its efforts to restore the Chickahominy Riverfront Park’s shoreline, create effective marketing campaigns, develop a new Park Scavenger Hunt program during the ongoing pandemic and provide unique, family-friendly programming, like “Boo Bash at the Beach.”

James City County’s Parks and Recreation department received six formal awards at the Virginia Recreation & Park Society’s 68th Annual Conference in Virginia Beach. (Photo provided by James City County).

3. A Newport News man is suing the police department over claims of brutal treatment.

  • A man is suing the Newport News Police Department after he says officers pulled him out of his car, dragged him and tased him at a traffic stop in June.
  • Lawrence Fenner, 32, of Newport News, told reporters at a press conference Monday that he believed his life was in jeopardy while he was at the hands of the officers. “I felt I could have died,” he said. People near the scene took videos of the incident, and one went viral after it was posted to social media.

“I gave them everything that they needed – as far as my license and stuff of that nature – for them to do what they got to do,” Fenner said. “I feel like it was out of protocol. After they got my license, it’s just a simple traffic stop.”

  • The incident happened near 30th Street and Roanoke Avenue, 13NewsNow reports. Police say Fenner was driving past officers at an accelerated rate of speed, and when they ran the license plate, they found that the plate did not match the vehicle it was on. They then initiated a traffic stop.
  • According to Fenner’s attorney, Amina Matheny-Willard, officers pulled Fenner over, ordered him out of the vehicle and then attacked him. They also tased Fenner multiple times, which caused him to develop a life-threatening kidney condition called rhabdomyolysis, Matheny-Willard says.
  • But Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew is defending the officers involved in the situation after reviewing footage from their body-worn cameras. He said the officers felt they had no option but to pull Fenner out of the vehicle and tase him because he refused to follow commands and allegedly fought the officers, striking one of them in the face. Drew also said the body cams show the officers were following the department’s policy.

“I understand the community’s concerns, and I’m appreciative because I think it’s important to have some open conversations,” Drew said at a news conference in June. “[Fenner] was never kicked. There were two to three knee strikes on the side of his body to get him to let go of officers, and the strikes did in fact do what they’re made to do. Those tactics are part of our policies and procedures and part of how we’re trained.”

  • Fenner was charged after the June incident with four counts of assault on law enforcement, obstruction of justice with threats and force, possession of a firearm by a violent convicted felon, fraudulent altering of license plates and having a concealed weapon.
    • The firearm possession, forgery charges, and three of the assault charges have since been dropped. The assault charge was later downgraded to a misdemeanor, and Matheny-Willard says she expects the remaining charges to also be withdrawn.
  • Police officers in all 50 states have the right to demand that a person leave their vehicle during a traffic stop, according to a 1977 U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Pennsylvania v. Mimms. Fenner admitted he did not exit the vehicle when asked to do so. But he says he kept his hands on the steering wheel because he was nervous and didn’t believe there was any reason he should have to leave his car. Fenner says he’s filing the lawsuit to hold officers accountable for their actions and help prevent similar incidents from happening to others in the future.

Lowest Gas Prices Today

All prices shown are per Gas Buddy. To check the latest prices based on zip code, click here.

Local Covid-19 Update

VDH reports that 6,045 people in Virginia tested positive for Covid-19 last week (up slightly from the 5,865 cases reported during the previous week). An additional 149 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Virginia last week, and 81 Covid-19-related deaths were also reported. All counties on the Peninsula are currently ranked as having “low” community transmission, according to the CDC’s updated map released on Nov. 24.

In the National News

  • Chesapeake Shooting Victim Sues Walmart: A victim of last week’s mass shooting at a Walmart in Chesapeake filed a lawsuit against the company Tuesday, ABC News reports. The victim is accusing Walmart of negligence for hiring and continuing to employ the suspect, even though the company was aware of his alleged disturbing interactions with staff. The victim says they submitted a written complaint about the suspect’s behavior more than two months before the shooting, but Walmart failed to “enact any preventative measures to keep Walmart customers and employees safe.”
  • China Plans Crackdown on Protestors: China’s ruling Communist Party is vowing to “sabotage activities by hostile forces” following street demonstrations by tens of thousands of protestors, the AP reports. The protests are being waged by citizens who are fed up with the nation’s “zero-COVID” policy, which has placed millions into lockdowns and quarantine, limited citizens’ access to food and medicine, severely restricted travel and caused substantial economic setbacks. While global health experts have criticized the “zero COVID” strategy as ineffective and unsustainable, China denounced those remarks as “irresponsible.” The number of citizens who have been detained during the protests is not known.
  • Safety Concerns Emerge Over New Alzheimer’s Treatment: Excitement over a new Alzheimer’s drug has dampened amid news of a second patient death linked to the treatment, according to Axios. The drug, Lecanemab – developed by Japanese drugmaker Eisai and its partner Biogen – has been found to slow the rate of cognitive decline by 27% in patients with early-stage disease. Both of the deaths within the drug trial were among patients who took blood thinners for other ailments, but experts say blood thinners are commonly taken by many Alzheimer’s patients. While new late-stage clinical trial results are expected to be released soon, the deaths suggest patients who take the treatment may need to be carefully screened and monitored. The company is planning to file for full approval of the drug by late March.


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