News in 5: York County students to perform in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Plus: William & Mary's football team is heading to the FCS playoffs, a development proposed for Strawberry Plains Road in Williamsburg was rejected & the City of Newport News has debuted a new brand.

Good morning, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is a big travel day for many, and the good news is that we can expect dry, pleasant and seasonable weather throughout the day, according to Chief Meteorologist Patrick Rockey of WTKR News 3. Thanksgiving Day tomorrow should be equally nice, with highs near 60.

The warmer temperatures will stay around throughout the weekend, but we’ll likely see rain for Black Friday. There will also be some chances for additional rain over the weekend.

In light of the Thanksgiving holiday, this week’s abbreviated newsletter focuses mostly on good news, but I can’t conclude without mentioning the mass shooting that happened at a Chesapeake Walmart last night.

While details are currently limited, WAVY News reports that 7 people are confirmed dead, including the shooter. Five additional victims were treated at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital overnight, according to a spokesperson for the hospital.

A law enforcement official told ABC News that preliminary evidence suggests the shooting was carried out by an employee, possibly a manager, who “went in a break room and shot other employees, and himself.”

My heart goes out to everyone who has been impacted by this terrible tragedy, far too close to home.

Now to the news.


1. A group of students from York County will perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

  • Twenty-five students from the York County School of the Arts (SOA) traveled to New York City over the weekend after being selected to perform in this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They’ll join hundreds of other cheerleaders and dancers – all between the ages of 13 and 18 – for the Spirit of America dance portion of the famous televised event.
    • SOA is a fine arts magnet program at Bruton High School that accepts students from Grafton, Tabb and York. Programs are available in Advanced Technical Theatre, the Literary Arts, Dance Arts and Theatre Arts, according to the school division’s website.
  • Lee Knight, a dance instructor at SOA, told WTKR News 3 the news came as a big surprise to her students, who were chosen after submitting an audition tape to the parade’s selection committee. Knight added that while the students are feeling pressure to get their moves just right for the high-stakes performance, she wants them to remember to have fun.

“They’ve been diligently learning all of the parts, all of the precision work and detail,” Knight said. “I very much hope we can be in the moment and enjoy every part of the process of being there.”

Members of Spirit of America Dance perform during 96th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade rehearsals at Macy’s Herald Square on November 21, 2022 in New York City. Students from the York County School of the Arts were selected to participate in the televised parade. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

2. Making history: William & Mary’s football team is headed to the FCS playoffs.

  • William & Mary’s Tribe football team – which just recorded the best regular season performance of its 129-year history – is heading to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs as the No. 5 seed.
    • The news comes on the heels of a 37-26 Capital Cup win against No. 11 Richmond, which earned William & Mary the Colonial Athletic Association title.
  • After posting a 10-1 regular season record, the Tribe will have a bye next week. They will then host the winner of Gardner-Webb/Eastern Kentucky at Zable Stadium at 2 pm on Saturday, Dec. 3, according to a Tribe Athletics news release.
  • Playoff tickets are now available and can be purchased online at

CHARLOTTE, NC – SEPTEMBER 02: Lachlan Pitts (81) of the William & Mary Tribe escapes a tackle by Wayne Jones (5) of the Charlotte 49ers to score a touchdown during a football game between the Charlotte 49ers and the William & Mary Tribe on September 2, 2022, at Jerry Richardson Stadium in Charlotte, NC. The Tribe is headed to the FCS Championships after posting its best regular season on record. (Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

3. The Williamsburg Planning Commission has rejected a proposal to build 120 townhouses on Strawberry Plains Road.

  • At its meeting last Wednesday, Williamsburg’s Planning Commission voted unanimously to reject a request by Cale Development, LLC, to rezone a property located at 180 Strawberry Plains Road.
    • Cale Development made the rezoning request as part of a proposal to build a 120-unit townhouse development. The current zoning only allows for single-family homes.
  • The developer argued that the townhouses would help create additional affordable housing in the city. But that wasn’t enough to alleviate the community’s concerns.
  • Dozens of local residents poured into the meeting to object to the project, with many saying it could create traffic and safety issues.
    • Several William & Mary professors in attendance also brought up concerns about the potential for damage to the environment. Beth Chambers, the herbarium curator at the college, said the development would destroy valuable forest land, jeopardize endangered plants and damage local water quality.
  • Others pointed out the development would hardly make a dent in the need for affordable housing in the City since only 15 of the 120 units would be sold at a discounted rate. Some added that the “affordable housing” units were also not truly affordable.
    • While 105 of the townhouses would be sold for $325,000, the remaining 15 “affordable” units would be sold at a $100,000 discount, for a cost of $225,000. That reduced price, some residents argued, is still not feasible for the target population of teachers, firefighters, public service workers and others who need to buy affordable homes.

“I keep hearing about affordable housing… but this land is being sold at a considerable discount for the opportunity to have only to have fifteen of those 120 units dedicated to workforce housing,” said Williamsburg resident Debbie Burcham during the meeting. “If the City truly wants to provide affordable housing for fifteen families, it would keep the zoning as it is and build entry-level homes which are similar to those in the Strawberry Plains subdivision as was originally intended.”

4. Newport News has unveiled a new city brand.

  • After an extensive process that involved hundreds of residents, business and community leaders and stakeholders, the City of Newport News has launched a new brand and strategic message – Newport News: Built on Breakthroughs. The new branding is meant to epitomize what is distinct and authentic about Newport News, according to the City.

“Newport News is a city built on breakthroughs, a place where collective ideas come together without limitations,” said Newport News Mayor McKinley L. Price. “We are a city on the move, constantly changing and always creating. Our breakthroughs are built to change today and impact tomorrow. We smash atoms and build nuclear aircraft carriers – anything is possible in Newport News!”

  • The goal of the new branding initiative, the City says, is much deeper than simply a new logo and tagline. It’s part of a campaign to instill a greater sense of pride in the community that will be “activated artistically” throughout the city. Initial plans include the launch of new murals, signage, outreach campaigns, increased messaging and more. The City’s website,, has already been updated to reflect the updated brand.
  • The result of the branding initiative was first revealed during Mayor Price’s final State of the City address on Nov. 16. See the City’s brand video.

The City of Newport News has unveiled a new logo and strategic message as part of a brand initiative designed to epitomize what is distinct and authentic about the Newport News community. (Photo provided by the City of Newport News).

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