The Triangle News in 5: Fourth of July to bring parades, fireworks and live music to the Peninsula

Plus: Police released new surveillance video of a gunman who killed two 7-Eleven employees in Kiln Creek, and Waller Mill Park is once again open 7-days a week.

Good morning!

We can expect warmer, but still dry and comfortable, temperatures in the mid-80s today, according to WAVY News meteorologist Jeremy Wheeler.

The weekend is expected to usher in more heat and humidity, though. Temperatures will rise into the 90s, and heat indexes are set to reach nearly 100 degrees on both Friday and Saturday.

We’ll also need to keep an eye out for stormy weather later in the weekend. Some storms could continue into the 4th, but it seems they’ll be more isolated by the evening.

Have questions, comments or suggestions for future newsletters? Please reach out to me by hitting “reply” to this email.

Now to the news.

-Christin

Fourth of July fireworks and other festivities have been announced for Williamsburg, Yorktown and Newport News. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Colonial Williamsburg’s Independence Day celebration will feature fireworks, educational programming and an all-new American music concert series.

  • The sky above the Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg will once again be illuminated with fireworks on July 4. The display, starting at 9:30 pm, will cap off the Foundation’s celebration of freedom, which began with free admission on June 19 to honor Juneteenth and ends with a series of patriotic programs to be held July 1-4.

“Celebrating Independence Day in Williamsburg, where the groundwork of American democracy was laid, reminds us why this holiday matters,” said Cliff Fleet, president and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “Our nation has been striving to achieve a more perfect union since its inception. On this day, we celebrate our progress, acknowledge the work ahead, and commit ourselves to achieving our nation’s aspirations as embodied in the Declaration of Independence.”

  • A number of programs highlighting the historic context of independence in the United States will be offered throughout the weekend, including presentations featuring Thomas Jefferson and other founders, readings of the Declaration of Independence, militia marches and theatrical performances. The festivities are expected to draw visitors from near and far who want to experience the Fourth in the birthplace of America.
  • This year, Colonial Williamsburg is also kicking off a brand new, four-part American Music Concert Series leading up to the fireworks display, which is sponsored by the City of Williamsburg. The concerts will be held every evening, July 1-4.
  • On the Fourth, entertainment featuring a performance by favorite local swing band Good Shot Judy will be held on the Lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg starting at 7:00 pm.
    • At 8:00 pm, the concert series will culminate with a celebration of the words and music of the American Revolution as a prelude to the fireworks. This event will include a reading of the Declaration of Independence, American marching music of the Revolution, patriotic sing-along and selections from the Music for the Royal Fireworks by George Frideric Handel performed by the CW Fifes & Drums Sr. Corps.
  • A full schedule of CW’s upcoming July 4 celebration events is available here.

The sky above the Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg will be illuminated with a fireworks display on July 4 at 9:30 pm. (Image courtesy of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.)

2. In Yorktown, Fourth of July celebrations will kick off early in the morning and conclude with fireworks at night.

  • Festivities will begin bright and early in Yorktown on July 4, kicking off with the Yorktown Independence Day 8K Run/Walk at York High School. At 9:00 am, a patriotic parade will commence on Water & Main Streets. Family games and kids’ activities will be available at Riverwalk Landing beginning at 1:00 pm.
  • A “Liberty Celebration” will also be held at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. From 9:00 to 5:00 pm on July 4, visitors will be able to learn about the challenges that faced the nation’s founders and enjoy interpretive programs and artillery demonstrations.
    • A rare July 1776 broadside of the Declaration of Independence duplicated in mass to spread the word of liberty from town to town will be showcased in an immersive gallery exhibit surrounded by signatures of this historic document’s signers. Additionally, Liberty Fever, the museum’s introductory film, will be shown throughout the day in the theatre.
    • Visitors will also enjoy numerous outdoor living history experiences, including re-creations of a Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm. Throughout the day, there will be six 30-minute presentations on the events that led to the Declaration of Independence.
    • At 12, 2 and 3:30 pm, guests can join in on the “Great American 4th of July Sing-along.” Led by the Cigar Box String Band, the sing-along will feature songs from American history that everyone knows by heart.
    • The “Liberty Celebration” is included in museum admission. Residents of York County, James City County and the City of Williamsburg receive free admission with proof of residency.
  • Free parking for the fireworks and other evening activities will open at the Yorktown Battlefield (Cook Road & Ballard Streets) at 4:00 pm and will close once capacity is reached.
    • All-day street traffic blockades will include Zweybrucken Road, Comte de Grasse Street, and Main Street (from Zweybrucken to Ballard). The Beach Picnic Area will only be open to pedestrian traffic (no vehicular traffic will be permitted). Church, Nelson, Smith, and Bacon Streets will be restricted to residents only.
    • Guests are encouraged to arrive early. The walk from the Battlefield to the waterfront is approximately one mile and includes hills and uneven terrain.
    • Transportation will be available for disabled or special needs individuals. Those in need of handicapped parking and special assistance are asked to arrive at Yorktown Middle School between 4:00 – 7:00 pm and must check in by 7:00 pm in order to access this service.
    • The Yorktown Trolley, which is the only form of public transportation in Yorktown, will run from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm. It’s free, air-conditioned and handicapped accessible and includes several convenient stops.
  • Visitors may bring lawn chairs, blankets and coolers, but alcoholic beverages will not be permitted.
  • Several Yorktown restaurants will be open for business, and to-go options will also be available at the Patriotic Food Pavilion from 4:00 – 9:15 pm. Food trucks and vendors will include Smoke BBQ, Boyd’s Tasty Dogs, Kona Ice, Chef Joseph, Ben & Jerry’s and more.
  • Evening events include the Sounds of Liberty Bell Ringing Ceremony (7:00 pm), Super Jazz Band Concert featuring Conni Ironmonger (8:00 pm) and finally, a spectacular fireworks display over the York River at 9:15 pm.
  • Pet owners are urged to leave their pets indoors at home as the heat and noise from the music and fireworks can be upsetting for many animals.

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3. In Newport News, the iconic 4th of July Stars in the Sky event returns after a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic.

  • Independence Day celebrations in Newport News will begin at 7:00 pm on Monday, July 4. The Tomcats Dixieland Band will perform along with other strolling entertainment near the Victory Arch. Families are invited to bring lawn chairs and blankets.
  • Free face painting and inflatables, including moon bounces and obstacle courses, will be available for the kids. The City will also give out free lighted-star wands – one per person – while supplies last.
  • Numerous food vendors will also be on-site for the event, including Georgia Ribs and Catering, Marco’s Pizza, Haddash Grill, Kona Ice, Fruity Smoothies, Mediterranean Appetite, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and more.
  • Full Spectrum, a band consisting of six world-class active-duty musicians with the United States Air Force Heritage of America Band, will perform from 7:00 – 9:00 pm.
  • Finally, a fireworks display will light up the sky over the James River beginning at 9:00 pm.

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Other Local News

Police continue to search for a gunman who killed two 7-Eleven employees in Kiln Creek.

  • Community members are mourning after two well-known local residents were shot and killed inside a 7-Eleven in the Kiln Creek neighborhood in Newport News. Police released new video footage of the shooter over the weekend and are asking for the public’s help identifying the suspect.
    • The shooting occurred around 11:45 pm during an apparent robbery at the 7-Eleven in the 1400 block of Kiln Creek Parkway.
  • Friends of Preyas “Peter” Patel, 52, and Logan Edward Thomas, 35, say the two men were good, hard-working people who were murdered in a senseless act of violence.
  • Patel, of York County, was the owner of the store. He moved with his family to the United States from India twenty years ago seeking new opportunities, according to WAVY News. Patel was married and had two college-aged children.
    • Those who worked at the 7-Eleven told the Daily Press Patel was a kind-hearted person who went out of his way to help people, even offering extra money to employees when they ran into tough times.
    • “He had respect for the community, and everyone around here respected him,” one employee said of Patel. “And there was no reason for this to happen. That man gave his all for everybody… What happened here, there’s just no just cause for it.”
    • WAVY reports that Patel’s sister became so distraught over the killing that she had to be taken to a nearby hospital.
  • Thomas, who lived in Newport News but was originally from Williamsburg, was a third-generation 7-Eleven employee and had a five-year-old son.
    • “Logan had a shining star in him. He had a good heart, wanting to help people,” said Thomas’ mother, Susan Long. “He was a hard worker. He had to make his mom and grandmom proud too.”
  • Shootings are unusual in Kiln Creek, a large residential area on the outskirts of York County near the Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport.
  • Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said finding the man who committed the murders is the police department’s “top priority right now.” He emphasized that the suspect is considered dangerous and must be brought to justice for his crimes.
    • “This is a strong community. I need to make sure they know that this matters to me,” Drew said during a June 17 news conference.
  • 7-Eleven is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case. Police are also offering a separate crime line reward of up to $1,000.
  • The new surveillance video can be viewed here. Anyone who can identify the person in the video or has any knowledge about the incident is asked to call Det. Rogers at 757–928–4219. Anonymous tips can be submitted online at P3Tips.com or by phone to the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.

Waller Mill Park will be open daily again starting July 1.

  • After operating on reduced hours due to staffing shortages since October 2021, Waller Mill Park will once again be open seven days a week, the City of Williamsburg announced in a news release.
  • The City raised its part-time hourly rate to $19 per hour, effective July 1, in an effort to address the staffing shortage. Dozens of applicants reportedly applied for the position after the wage increase was announced.
  • Williamsburg Parks and Recreation has been able to hire 28 new part-time employees for its open positions, including 19 for Waller Mill and nine for Quarterpath Recreation Center.

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Local Covid-19 Update

New cases: ➕ VDH reports that an additional 17,379 people in Virginia tested positive for Covid-19 last week. That’s down from the 17,777 cases reported during the previous week.

The highest numbers of new cases on the Peninsula last week were reported in Newport News (+376), Hampton (+333) and James City County (+131), according to WTVR News 6.

Hospitalizations and deaths: An additional 195 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Virginia last week (down from 242 the week before), according to VDH data. 66 Covid-19-related deaths also occurred in the state last week (up from 12 the week before), according to VDH.

Vaccination rate: 74% of Virginians are fully vaccinated (up from 73.8% last week).

Lowest Gas Prices Today

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

In the National News

  • Youngkin Seeks 15-Week Abortion Ban: Soon after the Supreme Court announced its decision overturning Roe v. Wade on Friday, Governor Glenn Youngkin told the Washington Post he’s planning to seek a 15-week abortion ban in Virginia. But by midday Friday, Democratic leaders assembled in Richmond’s Capitol Square, pushing back on the proposal and vowing to block any new restrictions. Youngkin said he’s asked four Republican lawmakers to establish the legislation in hopes of finding a bipartisan compromise, adding that he would settle for a 20-week ban. Abortion is currently available without restrictions until 25 weeks of pregnancy in Virginia.
  • Supreme Court rules in favor of former coach in school prayer case: In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a high school football coach in Washington state was wrongfully terminated for praying on the field, NBC News reports. While the school said it was trying to prevent the misconception that it was endorsing a religion, the court concluded the former coach, Joseph Kennedy, was exercising his First Amendment right. “Both the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect expressions like Mr. Kennedy’s,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion. “The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike.”
  • Covid vaccine strategy for fall remains unclear: Time is running short for the U.S to develop a Covid-19 vaccine strategy for the fall. Still, key questions remain after an expert FDA panel spent hours Tuesday debating whether to update the shots to better target new variants, Axios reports. The FDA hasn’t formally decided if it will release Omicron-specific vaccines, even as new CDC data shows the new Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 now make up more than 50% of the virus circulating. “The Omicron subvariant BA.5… takes immune escape, already extensive, to the next level, and, as a function of that, enhanced transmissibility,” Dr. Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, wrote Monday. Nonetheless, the FDA acknowledges that it would be difficult to develop a new vaccination strategy given the continual influx of new variants and uncertainty regarding immune responses.
  • West Vows Continued Support for Ukraine: Russia is ramping up attacks on Ukraine as the West pledges ongoing support for Kyiv, according to the AP. On Monday, Putin’s troops unleashed airstrikes on a crowded shopping mall in central Ukraine Monday, killing at least 18 people and wounding many others. The governor of the city of Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine also said fighting has increased there, causing several villages to be “wiped from the face of the earth,” per Reuters. French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the mall attack as a “new war crime” at the G-7 summit in Germany Tuesday, promising that NATO is united in its commitment to stop Russia from winning the war.

Events This Week

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

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