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prince william living December 2011

The premiere lifestyle magazine of Prince William and Greater Manassas

Happy Holidays! PAGE 4

Christmas Around Prince William PAGE 10

House of Mercy

Unbeatable Deals! One Happy Customer At A Time.

14227 JEFFERSON DAVIS HIGHWAY ON ROUTE 1 IN WOODBRIDGE 866-516-3333 2 | December 2011 prince william living


table of contents December 2011 Vol. 1 No. 12

FEATURES Christmas Around Prince William........................4

4 DEPARTMENTS from the publisher..................................................3 advertiser index ....................................................3 destinations O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree ......................8 giving back House of Mercy: Where “Mercy Is a Verb” ..........10 local flavor e Taste of Family-Owned..................................12 family fun Get Your Skate On ..............................................16

16 Photo courtesy Jennifer Garnett

going places Cindy Brookshire: Going Places by Planting Roots......................................................20 on a high note Shaking It Up with Shake It Up ............................22 tambourines and elephants Holiday Fervor ....................................................25 calendar ..............................................................26 distribution sites ................................................29

22 Photo courtesy Aleda Johnson Powell

prince william living December 2011 | 1

The premiere lifestyle magazine of Prince William and Greater Manassas

Prince William Living Editor in Chief and Publisher Elizabeth Kirkland Prince William Living President Rebecca Barnes Contributing Writers Carla Christiano, DeeDee Corbitt Sauter, Audrey Harman, Keasha Lee, Boyd Lillard, Casey Rives, Linda Ross Pugel and Olivia Overman Copy Editor Peter Lineberry Copy Assistant Marya Wright Unrath Photography Jennifer Garnett, Allison Perrin and Aleda Johnson Powell Graphic Design and Production Alison Dixon/Image Prep Studio Senior Advertising Account Executive Eileen Classick-Terry Advertising Account Executives Patty Tracy and Helena Tavares Kennedy Prince William Living, the premiere lifestyle magazine of Prince William and Greater Manassas, is published monthly by Prince William Living, Inc. e opinions expressed in the magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Prince William Living. © Copyright 2011 by Prince William Living, Inc. All rights reserved. Materials may not be reproduced or translated without written permission. Visit the Prince William Living website at for reprint permission. Subscription rate is $12 (U.S.), one year. International subscribers add $12 each year. Change of address notices should be sent to Prince William Living President Rebecca Barnes. Reprints and Back Issues: To order article reprints or request reprint permission, please visit the Prince William Living website: Order back issues by calling Prince William Living President Rebecca Barnes at (703) 232-1758, ext. 1. For further information about Prince William Living, visit, or contact Prince William Living at (703) 232-1758.

Prince William Living 4491 Cheshire Station Plaza, PMB 55 Dale City, VA 22193 Phone: (703) 232-1758 Efax: (703) 563-9185 Editorial offices: (703) 232-1758, ext. 2 Efax: (703) 563-9185 Advertising offices: (703) 232-1758, ext. 1 Efax: (703) 563-9185 Editorial Have a story you’d like our staff to cover? Contact Prince William Living Editor in Chief and Publisher Elizabeth Kirkland, either by phone at (703) 232-1758, ext. 2, or by email at Advertising Prince William Living accepts display advertising. For complete advertising information, please contact Rebecca Barnes, Prince William Living president, either by phone at (703) 232-1758, ext. 1, or by email at Distribution If you are your business’ decision maker and you have a waiting room or other place your customers and employees would appreciate finding a copy of Prince William Living, please call Prince William Living President Rebecca Barnes and ask about how your business can become a free distribution site for Prince William Living. Rebecca can be reached by phone at (703) 232-1758, ext. 1, or by email at By becoming a distributor of Prince William Living, your business will be mentioned on the Prince William Living website and in future issues of Prince William Living. Social Media

Prince William Living can be found on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

from the publisher According to recent Gallup polls, about 95 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas. But regardless of whether or not you celebrate the holiday, you’re bound to see plenty of Christmas lights and other decorations all over Prince William County and Greater Manassas this year, and we’ve dedicated this entire issue to all things holiday. We begin this issue with an article by Olivia Overman (page 4), in which she writes about how Prince William and Greater Manassas residents are celebrating the season. Be sure to read to find out when Santa Claus will be coming to town, and where to find some great Christmas lights and displays in the area. Are you in the mood to attend some great holiday concerts? You’ll find all the information you need right there in Overman’s article.

week to volunteer in the thrift store and food pantry. is month’s Going Places (page 20), by Audrey Harman, features City of Manassas resident Cindy Brookshire. Brookshire was chosen as the city’s 2010 Woman of the Year and has contributed to the city in a number of ways, including as a community volunteer, helping Manassas win, among others, state and national awards for Neighborhood Improvement Circles and the Landgreen Street Cleanup.

Still in search of the perfect Christmas tree, wreath or other holiday decorations for your home? Author Keasha Lee shares some information about the county’s only Christmas tree farm and more in this month’s Destinations, “O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree” (page 8).

In addition to all of this, don’t miss this month’s On a High Note, by Boyd Lillard (page 22), which features local band Shake It Up, which is comprised of Charlie Johnston (lead guitar, vocals, harmonica), Sue Masters (vocals, percussion), Bruce Moore (guitar, guitar synth, vocals), Sandy Stevenson (bass guitar, vocals) and Vince Galeano (drums). e majority of the band hails from Prince William County; Johnston is from Nokesville, Moore and Stevenson are from Manassas, and Galeano is from Lake Ridge. Newcomer Masters is the only non-Prince William resident; she hails from Centreville.

What better way to get into the Christmas spirit than by donning a pair of ice skates and carving some figure-eights at one of the area’s indoor or outdoor rinks? Find a rink near you in this month’s Family Fun article, by Carla Christiano (page 16).

Last but certainly not least is DeeDee Corbitt Sauter’s alwayshilarious Tambourines and Elephants column. In this month’s column, “Holiday Fervor” (page 25), she discusses the craziness that always abounds during this most-celebrated time of year.

If it’s too chilly to be outside, warm up inside Manassas’ own City Square Café, which Casey Rives writes about in this month’s Local Flavor (page 12).

So don’t settle your brains just yet for that long winter’s nap. First, get into the spirit of the season with us as you read this issue of Prince William Living. We hope you enjoy it!

Also this month, be sure to read about the House of Mercy, which Linda Ross Pugel writes about in this month’s Giving Back (page 10). e organization, founded in 2005 in Manassas, feeds 80-105 families each week. Twenty-five to 30 volunteers come in each

Sincerely, Elizabeth Kirkland Prince William Living Editor in Chief and Publisher

Advertiser Index ACTS ......................................................................................28 Alpha Pets ..............................................................................28 Ameriprise Financial ............................................................29 CAP Accounting, LLC ............................................................19 Dansk Day Spa at Occoquan ................................................28 Dina Psychic Consultant........................................................28 Edgemoor Art Studio ............................................................28 HomeCleaners4You ..............................................................28 I-95 Business Parks Management ........................................C4 Imagewerks............................................................................28 Kinnett Plumbing ..................................................................25 Lavender Retreat....................................................................29 lia sophia ................................................................................28 Lil Bit of Posh ........................................................................28 Lustine Automall ..................................................................C2 Magnificent Belly Dance ......................................................28

The Maids ........................................................................27, 28 Mary Kay/Marti Hall ..............................................................28 Minnieland Academy ............................................................19 Okra’s ......................................................................................19 Peggy and Bill Burke, Long & Foster Realtors ....................23 Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School ................28 Potomac Place........................................................................21 Prince William Chamber of Commerce................................27 Prince William Ice Center ......................................................19 Quinn’s Goldsmith ................................................................24 Sassy Gifts..............................................................................28 State Farm/Sandi Bausman ..................................................25 Statements Salon ............................................................14-15 Tidy Maid House Cleaning....................................................28 Touch of Gold ........................................................................28 US Logoworks ......................................................................28 Washington Square Associates............................................28

prince william living December 2011 | 3

Christmas Around Prince William By Olivia Overman, Contributing Writer

Photo courtesy LaVerne Carson

4 | December 2011 prince william living


he warm familiar scent of spices fill the air, and there’s a hint of excitement as people rush around preparing for family and friends’ gatherings, while those tunes that make you feel like a kid again fill the airwaves. Oh yes, Christmas time is here again and Prince William County has, as always, a whole host of celebratory events for you to attend. is Christmas season begins in earnest with the arrival of Santa Claus in the county. From Potomac Mills Mall to Old Town Manassas, Santa will jiggle that tummy, listen to the all-important wishes of the children and the young at heart, and ho, ho, ho his way right up until Christmas Eve when he’s got to go to work.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town Santa Claus is scheduled to arrive in person in Old Town Manassas at the Manassas Train Depot at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2. He will arrive, by non-traditional means of transportation for him, on the Virginia Railway Express train and will be greeted by the dulcet tones of the Osbourn High School Band. Just in time to take part in the tree lighting at the Manassas Museum at 6.30 p.m., Santa will be brought by wagon to the museum where he will visit with children of all ages on the lawn, checking out who has been naughty or nice this year. After a good night’s rest back with his elves and Mrs. Claus, Santa will make his much-anticipated appearance at the 66th Annual Greater Manassas Christmas Parade through Old Town Manassas the very next day. is year’s parade is set to boast floats reflecting the parade’s 2011 theme of “Christmas Remembered.” “Floats are commercially sponsored and made by local civic and charitable groups as well as local schools,” said John Martin, chairman of the Manassas Christmas Parade Committee. “ere will (also) be seven to 10 marching bands, including the Redskins marching band,” Martin continued. “is year’s grand marshal is Manassas City Manager Larry Hughes, and the Woman of the Year award will be awarded to Sally Lay, executive director at the Center for the Arts,” he said. “e two-mile parade was watched by 50,000 people last year,” said Martin, and just as many, if not more, are expected to attend this year. An extra-special feature of this year’s parade will be the participation of the New York City firefighters. “In 2001 firefighters from New York were invited to take part in the parade. is year, 25 New York firefighters will be riding the fire trucks once again to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11,” said Martin. Christmas cheer will abound, along with live music performances, animals, hayrides and marching bands; simply everything that is needed to get you into the spirit this month. While at the mall this Christmas season you are bound to catch sight of Santa and his merry little helpers. He moved into his new home at Potomac Mills Mall on Nov. 5, said Lauren Horsley, account supervisor at public relations firm Bitner Goodman, Inc. e Mills also, on Nov. 14, hosted “a sensory-friendly Santa experience for families of children affected by autism,” Horsley said. With live holiday music every weekend, even the Grinches out there are sure to feel holiday joy.

The 66th Annual Greater Manassas Christmas Parade will take place Dec. 3, from 10 a.m. until noon, in Old Town Manassas. For more information about the parade, visit

Look out for Santa at the Manassas Mall this month as well (he moved in Friday, Nov. 18), and make sure to bring the kids along for story time with the big man on Saturday, Dec. 10. And, how could anybody forget the family pet during the festive season? Wouldn’t your dog or cat love to meet Santa and have their photograph taken with him too? Check out the pet-friendly dates at Just in case you need one more extra-special Christmas ornament for the tree, a nutcracker and a smoker for grandma, or a lighted village to complete your holiday décor, the Golden Goose in Occoquan should be able to help. In business for more than 35 years, “we look for merchandise that is different from what you would find in Lowe’s or other stores,” said Laverne Carson, co-owner of the Occoquan store. e store is one of many that took part in Occoquan’s Annual Christmas Open House on Nov. 18 and will feature an extra-special event at the store on Dec. 21 when Gerald Charles Dickens will perform an edited version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. “Mr. Dickens is the great-great-grandson of the original Charles Dickens,” said Carson.

Christmas Lights Galore Every year the Anderson family, of Woodbridge, puts on a huge Christmas light display. ey began decorating their family home with Christmas decorations 43 years ago on what was then Donald Curtis Drive. Today, just off of Cardinal Drive, the entire Anderson family, including two sons and their families, welcome between 300 and 500 cars daily to their five-acre family Christmas display. “When our boys married, their love of Christmas went with them (continues on page 6) prince william living December 2011 | 5

(continued from page 5)

she continued. “And we know we’ve made a difference when you open your door to find some cookies, or a thank-you note.” So, jump in the car and take a drive to the Anderson’s “North Pole.” It is free to all who would like to go by and enjoy it, and is sure to warm even the chilliest of hearts.

Photo courtesy the Anderson family, of Woodbridge

Concerts and Performances Family concerts are aplenty over the Christmas period. From local volunteer choral groups to professional singing and performances, there is something for everyone right here in the county.

The Anderson family, of Woodbridge, goes to great lengths to decorate their home for the holidays.

and they too continued the tradition of putting up lights and decorations and always coming home for Christmas Eve festivities,” said Sandra Anderson. “When the boys grew up they began challenging each other,” she said, and the result is a huge family Christmas display. “It started off with just a few cars coming by to see the lights, but now people keep coming back each year.” ousands and thousands of lights and 75 or so Christmas figures make up the display which is on private property at 15615 and 15611 Bushey Drive. Asked why the family puts all this work and expense into the display, Sandra said, “We felt like there is not much Christmas cheer around these days. Everyone seems to be so rushed.” e lighting of the 45-foot Christmas tree on Friday, Dec. 2, will kick off the Anderson’s holiday season. “We will be lit daily between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. through New Year’s,” said Sandra. “We love to see the children come out with smiles on their faces,”

Other Christmas Events in the County ✪ The Prince William Community Band will perform a Christmas concert on Saturday, Dec. 3. Location: TBD. Visit them on ✪ Civil War Christmas at Brentsville will show how soldiers and civilians celebrated Christmas during this time. Date & Time: Saturday, Dec. 17, 3 p.m.-9 p.m. Location: Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre, Bristow. ✪ “Boating with Santa,” by River Shore Charters, will include a 30-minute boat ride on the Occoquan River with Santa. Date & Time: Dec. 17 and 18, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. For more information, please call Spiral Creations at (571) 494-1581. 6 | December 2011 prince william living

e epitome of Christmas, the Manassas Ballet eatre is putting on e Nutcracker for four dates from Dec. 8-11, at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas. With toy soldiers, the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Mouse King and a 60-foot tree, this performance is sure to be great holiday entertainment for the entire family. “e main adult roles are all performed by professional dancers, while the children’s roles include children who have been selected from open auditions that were held,” said Amy Wolfe, the Manassas Ballet eatre’s artistic director. Many of the children set to perform in e Nutcracker have been trained at the Manassas Ballet Academy. Accompanying the dancers will be the Manassas Ballet eatre Orchestra, which will provide live accompaniment for all four performances with the classic Tchaikovsky Nutcracker score. “We are the only ballet company in the area that provides live accompaniment,” said Wolfe , an air of pride in her voice. Amazingly, the organization also makes its own costumes as well as the famous beloved Christmas tree. (To learn more about the Manassas Ballet eatre, visit them online at Nothing gives you that Christmas feeling more than Christmas caroling and traditional Christmas choral music. One such group of performers, the New Dominion Choraliers (NDC) is scheduled to perform at the Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge during the first week of December. e group, which will be 70 strong for the Christmas performances, is just one of the few choral groups in the county. is nonprofit singing group is made up of local volunteers, amateur and professional, who love music. Director Katherine Nelson-Tracey founded the group to bring music to the Prince William County community. e group performs several outreach events during the year. “e NDC will be performing at the lighting of the Potomac Hospital Christmas tree on Nov. 26,” said Wendy Boone, publicity chairperson for the organization. (To find out more information about the NDC and its events, visit their website at Another such group, the all-volunteer Woodbridge Community Choir, is scheduled to perform two Christmas concerts this year on Dec. 3 and 4 at the Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building in Woodbridge. And, of course, don’t forget to enjoy all the performances scheduled for the Hylton Performing Arts Center during December, from the angelic voices of the Vienna Boys Choir performing “Christmas in Vienna” and the 100+ Manassas

else fails, take advantage of the spectacular light displays that families put up in the neighborhoods around our county. ey’re free! Photo courtesy New Dominion Choraliers

A graduate of American University’s School of Communication, Olivia Overman has written articles for a number of online and print publications. She lives with her husband and son in Woodbridge. Overman can be reached by email at ooverman@

Other Holiday Celebrations Hanukkah The New Dominion Choraliers is scheduled to perform at the Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge during the first week of December.

Chorale bringing “Tidings of Joy,” to “e Best Christmas Pageant Ever” brought by VpStart Crow Productions Inc. is year the Manassas Symphony Orchestra will also be featuring new work from the Virginia composer and Northern Virginia Community College professor Jonathan Kolm. All the events mentioned and more at the Hylton Performing Arts Center can be viewed, and tickets ordered, at “We encourage families to attend performances and in an effort to attract younger audiences, the Hylton Performing Arts Center offers half-price tickets to youth through grade 12 for those performances designated as Family Friendly,” said Jill Graziano Laiacona, the center’s public and media relations coordinator.

Also known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is an eightday and night holiday commemorating the Jewish rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It is observed from the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, and may occur at any time from late November to late December. The name “Hanukkah” is derived from the Hebrew verb “to dedicate,” and stems from 168 B.C.E. when the Jewish Temple was seized by Syrian-Greek soldiers. The festival involves lighting the candles of a nine-branched menorah known as a hanukkiyah. One candle is lit on the first night of Hanukkah, two the next night, and so on until all eight candles are lit on the final night. Each candle is lit with the help of an extra candle, called a Shamash, which is then placed in the ninth candle position. As with Christmas, Jewish children receive gifts for Hanukkah.


Never-Ending Fun From ice-skating to sleigh rides, light shows to school pageants, there is plenty of good cheer out there for all to share! If you have never been on a sleigh ride, Old Mine Ranch in Dumfries will be offering them (for children only) this month. e sleigh whisks children around this working farm, where they will find donkeys, goats, lambs and pigs. A nativity scene will be performed, after which the kids can warm themselves up with some hot chocolate and a cookie. And, while you are there, why not pick up a freshly cut Christmas tree?

Christmases Gone By Looking for an event that has an historical element for you and yours? Rippon Lodge in Woodbridge is holding an Open House on Saturday, Dec. 10, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. “e house will be decorated in two Christmas styles—Williamsburg, and the style of the late 1930s,” said Rebecca Super, site manager at the lodge. ere will be Christmas music, storytelling, and you can even partake in some English country dancing. If that is not enough, children can get involved in arts and crafts as well as enjoy cookies and refreshments there.

First celebrated in 1966, Kwanzaa is a weeklong celebration of the African American heritage in the United States. It is observed each year from Dec. 26–Jan. 1. The celebration involves activities including the lighting of seven candles, a feast and gift giving. Created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a former professor of Africana Studies at California State University, Kwanzaa is said to celebrate the seven principles of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. According to the official Kwanzaa website (, “Kwanzaa has seven basic symbols and two supplemental ones. Each represents values and concepts reflective of African culture and contributive to community building and reinforcement.” The seven symbols include: the crops, the mat, the candle holder, the corn, the seven candles, the unity cup and the gifts. The two supplemental symbols include the flag and a poster of the seven principles. According to the website, the colors of Kwanzaa “are black, red and green; black for the people, red for their struggle and green for the future and hope that comes from their struggle.”

Events have been planned and organized all over the county, so make sure you get out there this season and enjoy them! And if all prince william living December 2011 | 7


O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree


By Keasha Lee, Contributing Writer is the season to spend time with loved ones, to enjoy lots of delicious food and to pull out all of the creativity and tradition while decorating for the holidays. A main staple among most homes during Christmas is the Christmas tree. e ways that people choose to buy, decorate and display their trees are as unique as the people who own them. Many times, getting the Christmas tree is as easy as going into storage to pull out the artificial tree that has been used year after year. ere are numerous colors, shapes, and sizes of trees sold in retail stores that provide options to fit each person’s style and budget without the maintenance that real trees require. Others enjoy the smell of fresh pine or spruce and opt to purchase a live tree from a local roadside vendor, mass merchandiser or other retailer, which allows them to choose from a limited selection of pre-cut trees. For those looking for even more of a yuletide experience with their friends and loved ones, though, Christmas tree farms are the place to search through hundreds of trees to find the perfect one, cut it with a provided saw, and take it home. Evergreen Acres, located in Prince William County, is one such Christmas tree farm, and it has been owned and operated by Jim and Jean Gehlsen since 1984. Jim is a tall and welcoming man who is more than happy to give an impromptu tour around his 100-acre farm. e fact that he does the majority of the maintenance on the more than 25,000 trees on his farm is a testament to his dedication. e Christmas trees are grown on 45 acres and consist of three species: Scotch pine, white pine, and Norway spruce. “e trees take anywhere from 10 to 15 years to mature,” said Jim. He has trees that grow to heights of up to 10 feet. “ere are families who have been coming since we opened,” said Jean. “A visit to the farm is really a family experience; family members meet up even if not all of them choose to purchase a tree.” Creating and continuing family tradition is a major attribute for Christmas tree farms. “rough the years I’ve seen children who would come with their parents grow up, get married, and return with their own kids,” said Jim. “Going to the tree farm was an exciting experience because that was only supposed to be a one-time outing, but it turned into a family tradition,” said Jeffrey 8 | December 2011 prince william living

Christmas Tree Facts and Figures: ✪ Christmas trees have been sold commercially since 1850 ✪ Between 34 and 36 million Christmas trees are produced each year and 95 percent are either directly sold or shipped from Christmas tree farms ✪ 100,000 people are employed by the Christmas tree industry ✪ Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states (yes, even Hawaii!) ✪ More than one million acres have been planted with Christmas trees

Parker, who traveled from Stafford to Prince William County in search of the perfect tree. “e experience became even more special as my kids got older because as teens they were not as excited about getting up early on a cold Saturday morning, but once we get out on the farm in search of the perfect tree, they turn into little kids again.” e goal of the Gehlsens is to provide a fun atmosphere where people are comfortable and will have a good time. Tractors driven by staff take visitors to the outlying areas of the farm to look at trees and bring them back to where they can pay and have the trees shaken, baled and loaded onto their cars. Complimentary hot apple cider is a great accommodation that everyone enjoys, especially on a cold December day. ere’s also an attraction for kids that allows parents to browse Christmas trees without too many interruptions. “We decorate one tree with candy canes and red bows that the children have to find,” Gehlsen explained. “Once they find the tree they can have a candy cane, which they really do enjoy.” It seems that a trip to a Christmas tree farm can create a lasting impression. “We once decided to go back and buy a tree from a local Christmas tree vendor, but the experience was not the same as visiting a Christmas tree farm,” Parker said. ere are an estimated 5,000 Christmas tree farms across the U.S. Since the income generated through the sale of Christmas trees is limited to one short season, tree farmers are varied in their professional backgrounds. Some of the growers have a farming background; others are firefighters, teachers, and lawyers, to name a few. Jim is not only a Christmas tree farmer but also a bricklayer. He also grows blueberries, blackberries, asparagus, pumpkins, and recently became the only certified grower of organic tomatoes in Prince William County. As with any group of professionals, it is imperative to have an organized network that will allow the exchange of ideas, education, and opportunities for exposure of each individual’s successes in regard to their farms. e Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association (VCTGA) is a nonprofit organization that serves as a forum to learn, share, and gain insights to the world of growing Christmas trees. Said Jeff Miller, Secretary/Treasurer for VCTGA, “Members of the VCTGA are generally family

owned and operated businesses who are passionate about producing a perfect tree for their customers to have a memorable Christmas.” By purchasing a real Christmas tree, consumers may contribute to a healthier environment. According to Miller, a real Christmas tree is “a back-to-basics, truly ‘green’ and eco-friendly choice.” e Christmas season is a wonderful time of year to enjoy any number of family traditions. If your family has never been to a Christmas tree farm to select a tree, this year would be the perfect time to start. Evergreen Acres is located at 12801 Hazelwood Drive, Nokesville. For directions or to learn more, visit: Keasha Lee is a passionate writer, public relations professional and actress. She resides in Woodbridge with her daughter.

Christmas Trees and Holiday Décor Merrifield Garden Center 6895 Wellington Road | Manassas | (703) 368-1919 Merrifield Garden Center has an assortment of live and burlap trees, including blue spruces, Norway spruces and Douglas firs. They also offer cut trees of sizes up to 15 feet, in the following varieties: white pine, Frasier fir, Balsam, Douglas, blue spruce and Scotch pine. Also offered at Merrifield Garden Center are artificial trees from two to 15 feet—some with LED lights. Meadows Farms Nursery 8677 Plant Place | Manassas | (703) 361-4769 “If you are looking for a large tree, the earlier you come, the better,” said Meadows Farms Nursery Manassas manager Brad Bobenrieth. “The 10-foot and taller trees go first.” Meadows Farms Nursery offers cut trees from five to 14 feet in the following varieties: Frasier firs, Douglas firs, Scotch pine and white pine. They also offer burlap trees in the following varieties: blue spruce, Norway spruce and white pine. Lake Ridge Nursery 3705 Old Bridge Road | Woodbridge | (703) 590-0178 Weekend shoppers at Lake Ridge Nursery can enjoy hot cocoa and s’mores. Bring the whole family from noon to 5 on the weekends during the holiday season and get your photo taken with Santa for just $5. Or, bring your own camera and take your own photograph. Lake Ridge Nursery offers cut and live burlap Frasier and Douglas firs, ranging in sizes from table top to 14 feet. In addition to trees, Lake Ridge Nursery also sells fresh wreaths and garland. Get one poinsettia free with every tree purchase. They also sell artificial pre-lit trees. prince william living December 2011 | 9

giving back

HOuse Of MerCy: Where “Mercy Is a Verb” By Linda Ross Pugel, Contributing Writer


orgeous mosaic tiles make up the floor, beautiful paintings adorn the walls, and decorative lamps are found inside House of Mercy, a 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2005 in Manassas. Perhaps a visitor wouldn’t even realize they had walked into the charity nonprofit that is run by the Missionaries of Our Lady of Divine Mercy. Six years ago, Kellie Ross was a stay-at-home mom and housewife who felt isolated from the outside world. “I wanted to start a prayer group and have tea and coffee with some ladies,” she recounted. After attending a local mission conference through her place of worship, Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville, she approached one of the priests, Father Jack Fullen. He took her arm as she was leaving the room and asked if she smelled roses, informing her that roses are a sign that it is God’s will that she set up this ministry. e prayer group was formed, and started meeting weekly at Ross’ home.

Photo courtesy Jennifer Garnett

Following Hurricane Katrina, Ross wanted to serve directly in New Orleans, but her husband instead suggested that she and her prayer group focus on helping people in need locally, such as the homeless population in Washington, D.C. Ross gathered Fullen and several others and proceeded to make peanut butter sandwiches to take into the city. Unable to locate any homeless people, she began to pray for a sign, then suddenly looked up and saw one that read “Feed the Homeless.” Next, she saw more than 200 homeless in a park. “e sandwiches were gone in minutes!” she exclaimed.

The Manassas-based House of Mercy feeds 80-105 families each week. Twenty-five to 30 volunteers come in each week to volunteer in the thrift store and food pantry. 10 | December 2011 prince william living

After several weeks of providing sandwiches, Ross and the members of her ministry started bringing foot-washing kits, and offered new socks to men and women if they would allow members of the ministry to wash their feet. According to Ross, this was a huge turning point in the ministry. “Word got out about what we were doing, and donations were pouring in,” she said, adding that her house got too small for the work involved. She saw a “For Rent” sign on Route 28, which led her to a worn-down building. Taking a leap of faith, the ministry signed a year-long

contract for the space in a quest for “something beautiful, warm, and welcoming.” Put simply, the House of Mercy has become a regional center for spiritual mercy. According to Ross, who now serves as the executive director of the organization, “We believe that no matter what your gift, you can use it to help someone who is suffering.” Ross believes that God has a plan and purpose for everyone’s life, in keeping with the organization’s motto that “mercy is a verb.” e mission, she said, is “to make God’s love visible every day, and to be a visible sign of mercy to other people.” “We aren’t professionals at this,” said Ross, a nurse by trade. “We raise money through sincerity and sharing the mission. We tell the truth in a very simple way. Together in unity, we are able to reach out to the community and people around the globe.” e House of Mercy offers several programs for charitable giving. Under Humanitarian Assistance, the nonprofit provides food and clothing to the less fortunate. “Our mission is to identify whatever needs people have, and try in a little way to relieve the suffering,” said Ross. For example, Ross, a fan of “new” shoes, says that they are a very personal thing: “I’ve seen kids limping because their shoes are too tight, or they don’t have warm boots in the winter. Shoes are a visible sign that you have a purpose, and that you are not alone.” e “I Hunger for Mercy” international program, which falls under Humanitarian Assistance, started in 2009. Ross explained that the House of Mercy teamed up with Kids Against Hunger, a food-aid organization, creating four ingredients that provide complete nutrition for children under five. e international program partners with the U.S. Navy and the Red Cross, who assist in setting up feeding centers around the world. Meanwhile, meals are cooked and get distributed at refugee camps as needed. “I Hunger for Mercy” focuses on getting ordinary people such as housewives, children, and the employed and unemployed to come together to pack meals for the poor. “It gives kids a chance to ‘hands on’ feed the poor in our food pantry and around the globe,” added Ross. anksgiving dinner, which also comes under Humanitarian Assistance, was served for this first time this year in the House of Mercy’s new building, which they have called home for over a year. ey had more than 400 volunteers for the occasion. e nonprofit also held a multicultural brunch the weekend before anksgiving. Ethnic foods from all over the world were served at the brunch, giving people the chance to sample dishes from various cultures. “We would like to celebrate diversity on anksgiving Day,” Ross said. e largest of the children’s programs, Passport to Hope, invites contributions of $30 a month to help support a local child and their family. Ross also discussed a new weekly program that the House of Mercy launched in November, “Encounters with Mercy,” which highlights news and events happening in the ministry. According to Ross, the audio/video program allows people to follow the staff and volunteers as they go into a house and meet a family for the first time. Several adult programs are available, including the Home Bound

ministry. Ross said that many elderly people benefit from having groceries delivered, or from having company when reading or praying. In addition, the House of Mercy offers family movie nights once a month, and shows inspirational family movies. “We buy the rights to a movie and let people come together as a family, giving them a family-friendly environment,” explained Ross. Public programs offered by the ministry include how to overcome despair when financial crisis hits, and resume writing and preparing for interviews. ere are also cookie exchanges at different times throughout the year that allow people to meet their neighbors. Steve Luteran is the chief operating officer for the House of Mercy, and is primarily responsible for the internal operations of the organizations. Luteran, who came on board in October 2010, feels that his work and mission in life is to serve. e highlight of his day is to “see a family who is on the brink of despair find hope at the House of Mercy.” In preparation for Christmas, the House of Mercy partners with Toys for Tots, local churches and area schools to put on a two-day program. e first day, a Saturday, is strictly for parents. ey receive tickets based on the number of kids in the family and the number of toys that were received as donations. en they get paired up with elves, which are played by local high-school students. Ross explained that the teenagers wrap all of the gifts. e next day, Sunday, is a program for the children, who write letters to their parents detailing what they are thankful for, according to Ross. “Kids should understand that Christmas is about celebrating the life of Christ,” she said. “What you have is a gift, and it comes from someone’s sacrifice and from God.” ose working the weekend program explain to the children that it’s their opportunity to give back. e primary message that they try to convey to the children, said Ross, is that they have been given a great gift. On a weekly basis, ursday is the most eventful day at the House of Mercy, as people come in from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to pick up groceries. Ross explained that 12 caseworkers are present, and do interviews with families to see whose needs are most dire. Luteran, who has 20 years of experience as a social worker, is in charge of all assessments and evaluations of the families. e organization feeds 80-105 families each week. “It’s busy, loud, but beautiful,” said Ross about each ursday. Twenty-five to 30 volunteers come in each week to volunteer in the thrift store and food pantry. e general public is welcome to make financial donations online at Donations such as food, clothing, furniture and home goods are accepted Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (until 8 p.m. on Wednesday), and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. e biggest need for the House of Mercy is food for its food pantry; however, they are also in need of seasonal clothing, new shoes for children, and volunteers to help throughout the week. e House of Mercy is located at 8170 Flannery Court, in Manassas. Linda Ross Pugel is a 30-year resident of Prince William County, and currently resides in the Lake Ridge area with her husband and son. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College. Ross Pugel can be reached by email at prince william living December 2011 | 11

local flavor

e Taste of

family-Owned By Casey Rives, Contributing Writer


n a breezy, perhaps chilly day, there are few things more satisfying than walking across the railroad tracks and into Old Town Manassas.

After crossing the tracks from the visitor parking area near the Amtrak station, one of the first restaurants that visitors come across includes a picturesque outdoor seating area that’s just perfect for a family brunch or a romantic night out. e Euro-styled outside seating area perfectly complements the owners of this quaint restaurant, Robert and Susana Barolin—a husband-and-wife team who grew up in Uruguay. e dimly lit interior of the place, with its dark wooden accents and personable service, is all part of the charm of City Square Café, which, unknown to many, was actually one of the first eateries in Old Town Manassas. “We opened the doors to this building in 1989 but back then it was just a deli; the area was completely different,” said Robert, smiling as he pointed throughout the beautiful restaurant, explaining how simple its décor once was. “ere was just a counter-type bar over there and a soda machine in that corner.” e Sandwich Factory Café was the original name of the Barolins’ establishment, and its gourmet, one-of-a-kind sandwiches soon became a favorite for local businessmen, school sport teams and tourists. “We served exclusive sandwiches; sandwiches that you could only find here with thinly sliced meats and homemade bread,” said Robert, who attended culinary school in 1981 to reach his goal of becoming a chef.

An Accidental Beginning e Barolins’ success started by accident when Robert came to the United States from Uruguay in 1973 to visit family. 12 | December 2011 prince william living

“I came over just to visit and then there became a military issue in Uruguay for the first time ever and I couldn’t return,” explained Robert. “So I waited and waited but then this just became home.” He eventually returned to Uruguay a few years later, where he met Susana. e couple returned to the United States in 1976. While the couple’s journey in the United States started in Alexandria, Va., Robert and Susana moved to Manassas in 1985. “We loved the area; it was quiet and a great place to raise our family. Robert was working in D.C. at the time and after working together in five-star restaurants for many years, we decided it was time to start our own dream,” said Susana. eir dream of owning a sit-down restaurant took off in 1996 when they transformed their Sandwich Factory Café into a fullservice restaurant, complete with a new menu and a new name, City Square Café. “Owning a full-service restaurant like this was something we had always dreamed of,” said Susana. From the very beginning, City Square Café has served breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now, said Susana, “We feel like we have something for everyone. We can offer a variety and Robert always accommodates our guests. If you’re vegetarian or you have allergies, just tell us and Robert will make something special for you.” Although the Barolins expanded their restaurant, they never lost sight of their values and their original start as a family-owned deli. eir three children, Robert II, Natalia and Fernando were all a huge part of the business, helping out as servers, cooks and hosts. City Square Café became the picture-perfect definition of “family-owned.” In fact, it’s almost impossible to have an uninterrupted interview with either Robert or Susana—only because their customers are

Photos courte sy Allison Perrin

so important to them. Every time the door of City Square Café opens, both owners smile widely, stand up and greet each customer, often by name. “We have third generations coming here; we’ve known them since they were small children,” said Robert. “Many of our employees have been here since the opening of the restaurant.” Susana added, “Many of our cooks and waiters call us ‘mom and pop’.” e restaurant has become a tradition for many; even for those who remember visiting it with their family when it was just the local sandwich deli. “I remember it was a treat to come to the deli after a day with the family,” said Michael Johnson, of Woodbridge. “We all enjoyed it. It’s amazing to see that it is still there, improved and still popular for both new residents and even those of us who have moved away. I like taking my kids there now and telling them how it used to look or stories of things that happened when I was little—it almost makes me feel old.” It’s not just the history and the atmosphere of the restaurant that keeps customers coming back for three generations, though—the food is an essential reason for that. Local ingredients are used whenever possible and when in season. Robert and Susana visit the farmer’s market in Old Town Manassas often to acquire vegetables and ingredients for cooking. “Nothing is ever premade; it’s all cooked to order,” said Robert, as he prepared a Bloody Mary for a patron who had yet to place an order. “I know what the customers want before they even say anything, that’s how long I’ve known them!” One of the most popular items on the menu is the filet mignon—a 10-oz. hand-cut beef tenderloin filet topped with Gorgonzola cream sauce and served with “Bravo papas” (City Square Café’s version of “papas bravas,” a dish consisting of white potatoes that have been cut into two-centimeter irregular shapes,

fried in oil and served warm with a spicy tomato sauce) and seasonal vegetables. “I actually was coming to the restaurant for the first time a few weeks ago with a group of friends who had recommended the food, but due to some health issues, I’ve been advised to eat less meat during meals so eating out has become a problem,” said Jean GorGoza, of Gainesville. “All my friends told me to just call ahead and ask about veggie-friendly dishes. e man I spoke to on the phone was very nice and told me that he could take any dish and make it less meat but more vegetables.” e work of both Robert and Susana never ends and extends beyond the doors of City Square Café. Both owners are active in the community and participate in many fundraisers. “We just recently had a dinner for the (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) to raise money,” said Susana. “We do whatever we can and whatever is possible. Robert visits local schools often to teach about business.” e couple, featured on Channel 9 News in February for a cooking segment, also hosts themed wine dinners at their restaurant five times a year, at which locally grown produce and fresh meats are served to customers, along with featured wines. “It’s not just about eating or coming out for the night—it’s about the entire experience,” said Robert. “We always have events and we will always remember you. Whether it’s Christmas dinner or you come out to sit on our patio in July for the fireworks, we will make you feel special.” City Square Café is located at 9428 Battle Street in Manassas. ey can be found on the Web at

Writer Casey Rives, who resides in Haymarket, is a graduate of George Mason University. She can be reached by email at prince william living December 2011 | 13

family fun

Get your skate On By Carla Christiano, Contributing Writer


t used to be that Manassas or Prince William County residents had few choices if they wanted to ice skate: trek up to rinks in Alexandria or Washington, D.C., or wait for the ponds and rivers to freeze over. Although longtime residents have fond memories of skating on the Occoquan River, fortunately today we have a few more choices. Here is a roundup of the rinks in our area.

Photo courtesy Harris Pavilion

Loy E. Harris Pavilion Rink If you have ever been to Harris Pavilion in the summer, it can be quite a shock to see it transform to an ice rink in December. Where couples used to two-step to Buck Owens songs in July, ice skaters twirl and glide along shimmering ice, like the inside of a snow globe. Only steps away from the Manassas train station and downtown restaurants, the 11-year-old city-owned rink is the only outside rink in Manassas or the county, and is only open when weather conditions permit. Anna Marie Robinson, Harris Pavilion general manager, said she expected to open the rink before anksgiving this year and to close around the end of March, but added, “It’s all weather-dependent.” Although the smallest rink in the area (at 60 feet-by-120 feet), the pavilion’s rink can get about 600 to 1,000 skaters in a week and is even busier around holidays and school vacations. Robinson said starting in January, the rink will offer skating lessons on Saturday mornings (advance registration is required), but noted that the rink will also host events throughout the season such as a Winter festival, a broom ball festival which resembles hockey except players wear shoes instead of skates and use a ball rather than a puck, and a cartoon skate where kids can skate along with cartoon characters. Robinson hopes to add even more activities but acknowledged that the weather made it difficult to plan in advance. Since the ice conditions at the rink can vary from day to day, Robinson uses a variety of methods to keep potential skaters up to date. She noted that people can call the pavilion’s phone number 16 | December 2011 prince william living

Harris Pavilion, located in Manassas, is the only outdoor ice skating rink in Prince William County.

to hear a recorded message, consult its website, or check its Facebook page. And starting this year, skaters can sign up to receive text messages. “Don’t worry; we won’t try to sell you pizza,” Robinson joked. “We’ll only use it if something occurs that day.” She added, “Always call me or check the website first (before coming). ere’s nothing worse than a carful of kids who can’t skate.” Despite the challenges, having the rink outdoors is what makes the Harris Pavilion special, Robinson said, “It’s the perfect rink whether you are 80 or two. You won’t have anybody whizzing past. You can leave, go get something to eat at the restaurants nearby, and come back and skate some more. It’s fun outdoor family skating.” Robinson said her favorite time at the rink is at Christmas when Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by train. She said they have Christmas lights on and a fire pit going while Santa and Mrs. Claus sit nearby. “It’s so Norman Rockwell. It’s so beautiful. We’re so fortunate as a city.”

Photos courtesy Jennifer Garnett

There are two indoor ice skating rinks in Prince William County: the Prince William Ice Center, in Dale City, and the Haymarket Iceplex, in Haymarket.

Prince William Ice Center What kind of ice rink would you want if you could create your own from scratch? Pat and Bill Hutzler, owners of the Prince William Ice Center in Dale City, had to answer that question after heavy snows caused the Ice Center’s roof to collapse on February 6, 2010, forcing the couple to demolish the 14-year-old building they had owned since 2008. “When it went down, we had to determine how to progress from here,” said Pat. “Bill and I had a choice of taking the insurance money and running but we knew that it would be unlikely for anyone else to be able to do this in the community. We didn’t consider doing anything else.” Rather than just rebuilding the old facility, the Herndon residents decided to create a unique community space that can offer a variety of ice sports. ey credit their great staff, general contractor R.W. Murray, support from other ice rinks in the area, and Prince William County with helping them in the rebuilding process. Pat said, “We love this community. Prince William is a great community.” Constructed of red and gray concrete blocks and cream-colored steel, the new building now rises two stories in the same location on a tree-covered hill near the Boys and Girls Club on Dale Boulevard. It is an 83,000-square foot, full-service facility, which opened this fall, with two rinks: the Olympic 100-by-200-foot rink, and the National Hockey League standard 85-by-200-foot rink. According to Pat, “We did that because if we have competitions, they have to be on a…certified rink. It has to be the right size—surveyed and official.” Pat noted that each sport has its own needs and they had to take that into account during the building process. For example, the new facility can offer curling and sled hockey, both of which require modifications to be built into the rink. Curling, where

competitors slide a granite rock across the ice at a target yards away, requires special markings on the ice, as well as a dedicated space to freeze the rocks. Sled hockey, designed for players with physical disabilities, requires special gates so that players can have level access to the ice, as well as clear, Plexiglas panels so that players can see onto the ice. Bill said they will be working with USA Hockey to develop the sled hockey program and hopes to have a few charity sled hockey games, possibly with the Wounded Warrior organization. Each rink has seating for about 300 people and can accommodate wheelchairs as well. Pat said that they also added a rare amenity—crash pads, so that skaters practicing speed maneuvers won’t crash into the boards. In addition, there are water fountains that have bottle refill stations, ADA-compliant showers in the locker rooms, a café featuring healthier choices than fried foods, and an exercise room for strength and cardio training. e center also offers a full-service pro shop and even a deodorizer and ionizer to clean equipment because as Pat noted, “you cannot take it to the dry cleaner or stick it in the wash." Upstairs there is a 1400-square foot, dividable event space overlooking the rinks with projection TV screens, and a press box with audio-visual equipment. According to Bill, the new audiovisual system will enable skaters to record their time on the ice so

Thinking about Playing Hockey? To get the scoop on playing hockey, ask a group of enthusiastic teammates, all 10 years old, from the Piedmont Predators. Connor Owen: “You’re on a team and you have friends. And it helps you with your exercise. Anyone who wants to play hockey, they should rent skates, and just go.” Sam Schlegel: “It’s a good way to get active. It’s easier than lacrosse and it doesn’t hurt as much. It’s about having friends, learning to skate, and having fun.” Madeline Esposito: “Hockey is a really fun sport. When I first tried it, I didn’t think it would be that good. Practice always makes better.” Jacob Hubert: “You have 20 friends on the ice with you, all trying their hardest. It’s the best when you score a goal.” (continues on page 18) prince william living December 2011 | 17

(continued from page 17)

intending it to be a temporary space until the Prince William Ice Center could be rebuilt. But their six-month lease has now turned into a permanent facility—though without the Prince William Hockey Club, which has since decided to return to the Prince William Ice Center. Evans, however, has decided to remain in Haymarket and is building a new youth hockey club, the Piedmont Predators, who have been using the Iceplex since April 2011. For those living on the western side of the county, the Iceplex is a welcome addition. Chris Borner, the facilities manager, said the rink’s skaters come mostly from Warrenton, Bristow, and Dominion Valley because the Iceplex is so convenient to them.

Photo courtesy Jennifer Garnett

And though most of their advertising is by word of mouth, this former warehouse manages to stay busy. Evans estimated that when Prince William Hockey was skating there, they had approximately 700 skaters per week. Add in the 175 skaters from the Piedmont Predators travel and house hockey teams, the National Blades synchronized skating team, 10 teams in the adult ice hockey league, public skating, and their skating and hockey classes, and the rink and small front office often swarm with kids and adults. Local kids enjoy ice skating in one of Prince William County's indoor rinks.

that they can improve, and will allow them to stream to the internet. He said since they are essentially starting from scratch, “it became more feasible to introduce new technologies.” e Hutzlers often hear that the rink is too far south, deterring some people from making the trip. “We want it to be a destination," offers Pat in response. "We want it to be a destination worth coming to.”

Haymarket Iceplex When the roof of the Prince William Ice Center collapsed, the teams who practiced there had to scramble to find somewhere else to skate. Finding no place they could rent, some enterprising folks from the Prince William Hockey Club came up with an unusual solution: they created their own rink in Haymarket. Once known as the Lumberyard Ice Rink, the Haymarket Iceplex is a yellow converted warehouse behind a self-storage facility and a cluster of townhouses, within earshot of the Norfolk Southern train tracks. It has a single ice rink and few amenities but has a dedicated group of people who are making it work. According to Ron Evans, general manager of the Iceplex, onetime president of the Prince William Hockey Club and now hockey director of the new facility, “It’s a major expense to build our own rink, but for the money that we would pay to rent ice, we figured we could build our own rink.” He said it took them a long time to find a suitable space for an 85-by-185-foot ice rink. “It was the only building big enough to hold an ice rink,” he said. Prince William Hockey opened the ice rink in October 2010, 18 | December 2011 prince william living

Borner, who is originally from Switzerland and is a 10-year veteran at other rinks, said that building the rink has “been a process, step by step” and that it lets him “contribute a lot more than just taking care of the ice.” He noted that the bare-bones Iceplex is not a multimillion dollar facility and that any money they make, they put back into the facility. Most of what they built has been recycled, including the boards along the rink and even the wood that gives the rink structure. He said that last year their scoreboard was made out of Christmas tree lights but has since been replaced by a new scoreboard with LED lights donated by Jiffy Lube. Now they are working on adding bleachers and building locker rooms. Catherine Hulbert of Gainesville, whose four-year-old son is learning to skate at the Iceplex, said, “I was so glad they opened one so close to home. We need it on this side of the county. It fills a big empty hole.” Her son is learning the basics—like how to fall down and get back up—but if he likes it, he may play hockey when he gets a little older. “e teachers here are great,” Hulbert said. Uzma Salam, who grew up in Pakistan but now lives in Gainesville and whose nine-year-old and four-year-old sons are also taking skating classes, agreed that the Iceplex was a welcome addition to the western section of the county. Although she knew the rink was intended to be temporary, she said, “I was praying that they would make it permanent.” She added that “I actually grew up in a country where they didn’t have ice skating as a sport.” In Pakistan, ice skating rinks are rare. “ey are only in the big cities,” Salam said. Her only way to see ice skating was by watching it on TV and she thought “It was like a fairytale.” Carla Christiano, a native of Prince William County, works as a technical writer and editor for Unisys. She holds an M.A. degree in English from George Mason University.

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Learning in a Loving Environment


going places

CIndy BrOOksHIre: Going Places by Planting roots By Audrey Harman, Contributing Writer


indy Brookshire, a City of Manassas resident since 1981, finally got the affirmation she needed to feel like a part of the community where she has lived the past three decades. Born in North Dakota, Brookshire moved all over the U.S. while growing up. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and works as a freelance writer. She is a lifetime member of Leadership Prince William and a founding member of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, just to name a few things she takes involvement in. “Anyone can find my resume online,” Brookshire told me during our interview. She turned the tables while I skimmed my prepared questions and asked me if what I really wanted to know is who she believes she is as a person. Just from the first 30 minutes of our meeting I could tell that she is an active member of the community and a caring person, because she knew and acknowledged practically everyone who walked through the door of Simply Sweet on Main in Old Town Manassas—even the mayor. Brookshire attributes her being honored in 2010 as one of six Outstanding Volunteers and as Woman of the Year in the City of Manassas as the result of her spiritual journey and exploring what connects her to her community.

Cindy Brookshire prepares snack packs for the Back Pack Snack Attack program, which offers supplemental healthy meal options for select students on the weekends, when they can’t rely on school lunches for their nutrition and energy. 20 | December 2011 prince william living

Brookshire described herself as Dorothy from e Wizard of Oz, in that all she needed to look for was right in her own backyard. at statement alone gave me a new understanding that I never got in my Intro to Children’s Lit class in college: To make a journey, one does not have to go that far at all. Brookshire originally moved to the City of Manassas with her first husband, Martin Cross, who was a local attorney. She described herself as an outsider at the time, having been in love

with North Carolina when she left, and being unsure about Manassas. In 1998, she was widowed when Martin passed away suddenly after a long battle with cancer. She said that her whole life changed in that one hour in the hospital after ďŹ nding out her husband had not been able to ďŹ ght o the disease. Faced with the challenge of telling her two children and her in-laws what had transpired so suddenly, she questioned, “How do I do this?â€? Brookshire now has the answer: “You just do it, but you don’t have to do it alone.â€? She found support in the school community, her church, and her neighbors. Brookshire said that after an experience like that, you develop a “spine of steel,â€? and nothing is ever as bad as what she had previously gone through. Brookshire nixed the idea of returning to North Carolina after she met Curtis Brookshire at her church. î “ey married in 2000, and the never-before-married railroad oďŹƒcial found a ready-made family with Cindy and her children. Staying in the area provided Brookshire the impetus to become more involved in the community and get to the level she has reached today. After the economic crises in 2007 and 2008, “People were suddenly moving out of their houses,â€? Brookshire said. â€œî “ere was trash in the yards and houses sat empty.â€? While walking her dog through her own neighborhood, she decided she wanted to help make a positive change. She helped start and now directs the networking group Prince William Study Circles, which brings people of diverse backgrounds from several dierent neighborhoods together to discuss their communities and oer solutions. î “e organization was named Virginia Neighborhood Association of the Year in 2009. Brookshire felt that this work helped in “training yourself and the people of the community how to be neighbors again.â€? Rather than feel disconnected, now she can name 20 people within the community she can call if she ever needs anything, and even more people throughout the state that she met at other neighborhood conferences. She believes that by looking beyond just one’s own property, it helps reveal the bigger picture and even prevents deeper problems such as crime. Some of the volunteer projects she has participated in won the City of Manassas eight state and national awards. Rather than stopping at community cleanup, she also helped start a pilot program called Back Pack Snack Attack and a networking group for local writers called “Write by the Rails.â€? î “e Back Pack Snack Attack oers supplemental healthy meal options for select students on the weekends when they can’t rely on school lunches for their nutrition and energy. î “e program, initiated in November, provides 40 packs per weekend, including six meals and two snacks per student. It will run for 24 weeks. Brookshire spoke about how this idea came to her when her family in upstate New York decided to donate money to charities instead of exchanging gifts. Brookshire’s charity happened to be a very similar program, and she decided to bring the same idea to her own community through the school networking group C.A.S.E. and the help of several other groups providing volunteers and donations. Such a program not only aids in students’ future health and lifestyle, she said, but they can now be

more focused on Monday mornings and do better on weekend homework and studying. Brookshire’s Write by the Rails group provides support and resources for local writers and encourages them to succeed at what they do. Brookshire believes it is just as important to support literary arts as it is to support all other arts, such as dance, music, or photography. By creating a networking group within the community, local writers, editors, publishers, and others can share ideas and tips, stimulating a successful and well-informed literary community. î “e group, which can be found on Facebook, hosts readings, book sales, and networking events. (To request to join this group, contact Brookshire on Facebook). “I don’t feel too crazy going in three dierent directions,â€? Brookshire said. “I feel like all of my common interests are connected through writing.â€? î “ough her title of Woman of the Year ended in November, the experience of riding in a blue convertible in the Manassas Christmas Parade was the one that brought her the aďŹƒrmation she needed. As she rode through the streets and watched the expressions on spectators’ faces upon seeing her with her dozen red roses, she felt like she had ďŹ nally planted roots in the place she had lived for three decades. Author Audrey Harman graduated this past spring from Hollins University with a B.A. in English and Spanish. She resides with her family in Woodbridge.

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prince william living December 2011 | 21

on a high note shaking It up with Shake It Up By Boyd Lillard, Contributing Writer


Shake It Up is comprised of Charlie Johnston (lead guitar, vocals, harmonica), Sue Masters (vocals, percussion), Bruce Moore (guitar, guitar synth, vocals), Sandy Stevenson (bass guitar, vocals) and newest member Vince Galeano (drums), and at the band’s core are Stevenson, Moore, Johnston, and the late Lew Whiticar, who, together went by the name, “Deal Wid It.” e majority of the band hails from Prince William County; Johnston is from Nokesville, Moore and Stevenson are from Manassas, and Galeano is from Lake Ridge. Newcomer Masters is the only non-Prince William resident; she hails from Centreville. e formation of the band began circa 1992 when bassist Stevenson, also a graphic designer, brought work by Moore’s print shop and saw him playing the guitar in his office. Shortly afterward, Stevenson invited Moore to come out and jam with him. In years that followed, they continued to jam with each other as well as with other musicians. Moore ran sound for both of Stevenson’s bands—e Tornadoes and Lone Wolf Band—and played guitar some for e Tornadoes. Soon, though, the core “jam” musicians had become the members of Deal Wid It, after being well-received by guests at one of Stevenson’s parties at his home. It was at that informal gathering, in 1997, that a guest at the party hired the group. “Deal Wid It” continued playing clubs and private parties regularly until 2010, when, sadly, drummer Lew Whiticar was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away in early December 2010. 22 | December 2011 prince william living

Photo courtesy Aleda Johnson Powell

t is a cool evening in October, and while most people are getting kids and themselves ready for the next day of school and work, a whole different activity is taking off Route 234 in Manassas. Party and event band “Shake It Up” is working its way through a groove-heavy ’60s medley, which includes hits like “Respect,” “Soul Man,” and “Good Lovin’.” e band stays true to its name as it changes gears to spotlight vocalist Sue Masters on Patsy Cline’s classic “Crazy.” But before anyone can get too settled in, the quintet picks up the pace and launches into Led Zeppelin’s “Misty Mountain Hop.” is is all in preparation for the band’s latest gig—the Red White and Blue Jeans Dinner Dance and Silent Auction—which was held Nov. 5 in Haymarket to raise money for military charities.

“Lew was intensely proud of this project; one of the highlights of his life, I think,” said Johnston. “He was a very private individual, not given to effusive emotional outbursts of expressing himself, but he expressed himself more in this environment than he probably ever did anywhere else in his life, outside of a love relationship with a woman. It’s a special thing. I feel he’s here in many ways.” As Whiticar’s health deteriorated, Deal Wid It had to find interim drummers and lead vocalists. Masters filled in on some dates before officially being offered a position in the band, and Galeano became the new drummer for the band through an audition process. Akin to a great athlete having his number retired, the band decided to retire the name Deal Wid It, to honor their dear friend. e band shares the work and the fun that went into choosing their new name. “We wanted to have something that would go along with dance,” Moore said. “We spent a long time thinking about names, Googling them, and finding that there were two or three bands named that already.” Bassist Johnston shared a few of the humorous misadventures on the search for a new name. “We had a lot of fun, initially, naming the band, ’cause Sue found a website that had a band name generator. It would throw three random words together; it would

be like ‘pinhead coffee lizards,’ and we had a lot of fun with that for a few weeks until we got serious.” After some weeks of thinking and searching, Deal Wid It was reborn with a new vocalist, drummer, and name, Shake It Up. “We thought about how we go from Patsy Cline to Led Zeppelin and that shakes it up pretty well,” said Moore. e credit goes to vocalist Masters for coming up with the new name. Each member of the band brings a wealth of experience and musicianship to the table. Galeano grew up in a musical family. His father played trumpet in a Swing band, his mother sang, his sister sang, played piano, and accordion, and his brother played bass guitar, guitar, and sang. In the ’80s, he was a member of a band called “Whitewater,” an opener for Peter Frampton at Merriweather Post Pavilion and Mickey Gilley at the Jersey Palace. Stevenson has been playing various instruments since junior high, including saxophone, bass clarinet, and later bass guitar. And Johnston brings his musicianship from a broad range of musical styles, which include bluegrass, folk, blues, and jazz. Masters comes from a classic rock/metal background, which has expanded the band’s catalog. One of her earlier bands was “Trial by Fire,” which she was in for almost two years. “We weren’t doing any Led Zeppelin, that’s for sure,” said Moore on Masters’ addition of classic rock to the band. Moore played in the Oakton High Jazz Lab and the University of Virginia Jazz Ensemble. In the ’80s, he played in a rock/Southern rock band called “Griffin.” With such a variety of musical styles and experience, it’s no wonder each member has their own favorite songs. And it is a credit to the democratic nature of the band that each member can freely express what they enjoy most about the music. “I love the rock,” said Masters. “My husband tells my kids they didn’t get a soccer mom, they got a rocker mom. I like playing anything people dance to. e old soul music—the Motown stuff—is always well-received.”

CASA Retro Party to benefit abused and neglected children in the county, and the Red White and Blue Jeans Dance to benefit veterans’ organizations. Guitarist Moore was awarded the Prince William County Chamber of Commerce “Behind the Scenes Member of the Year” for 2011. In August, the band released their EP, Start Shakin’, which can be found on iTunes. eir cover of the Aretha Franklin classic, “Chain of Fools,” ranks 69th out of 238 versions. With so many bands to be a part of, the band shares, with a sense of humor and sincerity, the reasons why they are in this one. “I needed the work,” joked Galeano. Added Johnston: “is is court-ordered for me.” He then spoke sincerely: “It’s a family. Bruce, Sandy and I have been together for almost 15 years.” “I was just lucky enough to get to be a part of this band,” said Masters. “I’ve known these guys for seven or eight years, and I’m grateful; very, very grateful.” Moore added, “ere’s really no desire to look for another band. We just kind of fell into this and stuck with it.” Check out Shake It Up online at Author Boyd Lillard studied religion at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va. He has worked as a contributing writer and editor in the nonprofit field and currently resides in Dale City. Lillard can be reached by email at

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As Shake It Up is a party band, the possibility always exists for the party to get a little wild. Moore recalled one night in particular during which a party guest dropped his pants. “It was a party at my house, where we were doing a performance,” Moore said. He saw my picture of e Who with a Union Jack, and he dropped his pants to show his underwear with a Union Jack on them.” Johnston recalled another incident that occurred when the band was playing the KOA campgrounds in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. “Normally, we would play outside in the pavilion, but they moved us inside because of the weather,” he said. “ere was this guy in a wheelchair doing 360s in the wheelchair, and he knocked over the speakers. He was, by far, the most dangerous.” For the past two years, the members of Shake It Up have worked to ingratiate themselves with the community, participating in the


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tambourines and elephants Holiday fervor By DeeDee Corbitt Sauter Like clockwork, the Holidays have arrived again. Seems to happen about this time every year—the arrival of the Holidays. In a matter of weeks, though, the Holiday stress will be over. Notice how “Holiday” keeps getting capitalized? I can’t help it. Any activity that runs for more than two months and drains significant energy resources from me deserves to start with a capital letter. Sure, there are the somewhat less stressful holidays, like Easter, spring break, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and other random three-day weekends, but, those are all very different from the “Holidays” that start with Thanksgiving and end shortly after the New Year. And it’s when November starts that the subliminal anxiety that has been poking the back of your head for weeks springs forth and squeezes your brain. One-sixth of the year is dedicated to forcing family good cheer, organizing get-togethers, buying meaningful gifts and staying warm while not turning up the heat. (OK, the last part really just has to do with winter and my hatred of the cold.) And while some of you may scoff at me and foolishly believe that you escape the mayhem simply because Santa is not part of your annual festivities (festivities— what a misguided word—makes it sound like everything is fun and games)—alas, you are mistaken. Even without the demands of decorating a tree, buying gifts and trying to meet everyone’s needs, you still have to go out and interact with other people. And these people, who take the season very seriously, can create pandemonium by simply exuding their frenetic energy waves. Many people think the Holiday season begins around Thanksgiving, but again, they are wrong. It begins with the need to buy costumes and candy for Halloween. And once that bridge has been crossed—once that first dollar has been spent on death décor and sweets—the next few months are a fight for sanity. In fact, I was in a local discount store near the end of October and when I walked

through those automatic doors, a colorful LED sign flashed at me: “64 Days Until Christmas.” (See? I told you it started before Halloween.) After buying enough candy to ensure leftovers which will HAVE to be consumed so that you don’t feel like money was wasted, skeletal remains will need to be quickly packed and replaced with smiling poultry placed next to cherubic pilgrims wearing colorful garb that may or may not be historically accurate. So you see, even without Santa, there are already infinite activities that will require a holiday following the Holidays in January— and not for sightseeing. That January holiday will be needed simply for sleeping. Inevitably, for most people, the Holidays revolve around gift giving. And receiving... And buying... And sharing... And hiding... And hating... Wait… No, it’s about love. So, what started with a simple bag of candy for costumed children ends with boxes of gifts for everyone and anyone you may know. Oh, how I loathe shopping and making lists for everyone. The lists never end: Parents, children, pets, teachers, coworkers, church, school, friends... I actually know people who adore shopping. I was recently at a Cub Scout meeting when a dad told me he loved shopping. In fact, he said he liked to take days off of work just to wander the stores and buy things. Wow. That is

astounding to me. To LIKE stores… We have all said or heard how important it is to appreciate family and friends and not the “stuff ” that is so prevalent during the Holiday season; we know that regardless of the commercials. But, since I brought it up, one person actually told me that he thought new stuff was very important in his life and in the lives of his friends. And he flashed his credit card wildly before he had to declare bankruptcy. But to each his own; no need to proselytize or get on any type of soapbox. I just want everyone to know that I am aware of how exhausting the Holidays are and how little time we actually have to make sure we say “I love you” to those people who are important to us. This year’s Holiday season is in full swing, but when it ends I will sleep until Groundhog Day. First, though, I need to get my list to Santa finished. I mean, I do love you (see, I said it) but mama needs a new 42” LCD flat-panel plasma TV with surround sound... DeeDee Corbitt Sauter is a resident of Prince William County. Her column, “Tambourines and Elephants,” appears monthly in Prince William Living.

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calendar Merry Old Town Dec. 2, 5 p.m.-Dec. 4, 4 p.m. Old Town Manassas Merry Old Town, sponsored by the Manassas Christian School, spreads holiday cheer in Old Town Manassas with a series of festivities from Friday, Dec. 2, through Sunday, Dec. 4. Visitors can enjoy listening to Christmas carolers, greeting Santa when he arrives from the train, checking out the tree lighting ceremony with Manassas Mayor Hal Parrish, visiting the Manassas Museum, seeing the Greater Manassas Christmas Parade, and window shopping during the Merchant’s Open House. For a full list of activities, visit or call (703) 361-6599.

Merry Old Town’s Christmas Tree Lighting December 2, 5:30-8 p.m. Manassas Museum | Manassas Make time to enjoy old-fashioned family fun at the “Merry Old Town” celebration in Old Town Manassas, sponsored by Manassas Christian School. e holiday fun begins at 5:30 p.m., with holiday music and at 6 p.m. when Santa arrives at the Manassas Depot via VRE train. Visit for more details.

66th Annual Greater Manassas Christmas Parade December 3, 10 a.m. to Noon Old Town Manassas Join Old Town Manassas for the 66th Annual Greater Manassas Christmas Parade. Visit for details, including the parade route. is year’s parade is brought to you by Northwest Federal Credit Union.

The Manassas Ballet Theatre presents The Nutcracker Dec. 8 and 9, 7:30 p.m., and Dec. 10 and 11, 3 p.m. Merchant Hall, Hylton Performing Arts Center 10960 George Mason Circle | Manassas e Manassas Ballet eatre proudly presents this timely family Christmas

26 | December 2011 prince william living

classic, based on Peter Tchaikovsky’s story accompanied by the Manassas Ballet eatre Orchestra. Tickets, which are $35, $45 and $55 per person (20% off for military, Lockheed Martin, Girl/Boy Scouts and Micron employees), can be purchased online at For additional information, email, or call (703) 257-1811.

Soccer Clinic and Futsal Tournament

Town of Dumfries 37th Annual Holiday Parade Dec. 10, 1-3 p.m. Main Street | Dumfries Come out and join the Town of Dumfries for their 37th Annual Holiday Parade! is year’s theme is “Toys on Parade!” Parents, be sure to walk your children to the Community Center for a “Kids Literature Corner,” sponsored by Mahogany Books.

Dec. 10, 1-5 p.m. Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School 17700 Dominican Dr. |Dumfries Attention all middle school students: Come sharpen your soccer skills and learn the great game of futsal! For boys and girls, grades 5-8. Cost is $15 per participant; price includes instruction, T-shirt, pizza and more! For more information, visit documents/futsal_Tournament_2011_0 00.pdf, or email

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Dec. 17-18, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Leesylvania State Park 2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Drive Woodbridge Join us at the Leesylvania State Park Visitor Center and tell Santa what you want, enjoy light refreshments, help decorate the park’s Christmas tree and make and take home some 19th-century decorations. Admission is $2 per person; $6 per family (plus an additional fee for parking). For more information, visit lee.shtml.

Dec. 10, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Dec. 11, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Ben Lomond Historic Site 10321 Sudley Manor Road | Manassas In December 1862, artist omas Nast drew one of the earliest images of Santa Claus giving gifts to soldiers. Santa will dust off that old suit he wore then and visit Ben Lomond. See the house decorated in true Victorian style by the Prince William County Garden Council and make period decorations to take home. Admission is $5 per person. For more information, visit

Rippon Lodge Holiday Open House Dec. 10, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Rippon Lodge 15500 Blackburn Road | Woodbridge Rippon Lodge will be decked out for the holidays. Join us for music, light refreshments and holiday crafts for kids. e last tour will be held at 3 p.m. Please dress for the weather. Cost of admission is $5 per person; children under 6 are free.

Dec. 13, 10-11 a.m. Manassas Museum Lawn 9101 Prince William Street | Manassas Children ages two to five and their caregivers can enjoy music, crafts and stories related to a theme. e theme on Dec. 13 will be “Snowmen.” Admission: $10.

A Civil War Christmas at Leesylvania State Park

Civil War Christmas at Brentsville Dec. 17, 3-9 p.m. Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre 12229 Bristow Road | Bristow During the winter of 1861, Prince William County was home to nearly 70,000 soldiers who spent Christmas here instead of in their homes. Step back 150 years to see how soldiers and civilians celebrated Christmastime during the Civil War. For just a $5 admission fee, walk through camps by candlelight and interact with the soldiers and learn about Christmas customs of the past. Enjoy hot cider, join in caroling or enjoy a musical performance in the historic Union Church. For more information, visit

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Prince William Living December 2011  
Prince William Living December 2011  

Prince William Living, the premiere lifestyle magazine of Prince William and Greater Manassas.