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How Downtown Manassas changed empty buildings into a regional entertainment destination

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When people visit the farmer’s market at the Harris Pavilion or navigate the crowds during First Fridays, they are surrounded by a beautiful historic downtown, thriving businesses, and lots of friends and neighbors. It is hard to believe that just 30 years ago, the streets of historic Manassas were desolate, buildings were in disrepair, and almost half of the storefronts were empty and boarded up.

How did downtown turn around?

In 1985, a group of business owners, residents, and City leaders rallied. Determined to revive the heart of Manassas, they needed to lure businesses and customers back from the sprawling strip malls and shopping malls. A series of community meetings explored both problems and opportunities before crafting a vision for a vibrant, walkable downtown filled with restaurants, shops, arts, and a city square

To realize this vision, the City embraced the Main Street Four-Point Approach that was designed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to revive struggling historic downtowns. At this time, Historic Manassas Inc. (HMI) was born.

In 2003, HMI was nationally recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation for revitalization excellence. Downtown Manassas was held up as a model when it won a Great American Main Street Award for rehabbing 54 buildings, dropping the vacancy rate to zero, creating 350 new jobs, and spurring $12

million in private investment.

These successes are attributed to HMI’s strong public-private partnerships, committed vision, and volunteer support. Main Street programs like HMI rely on dedicated community members who volunteer on committees and the board of directors to help carry out its work together with staff.  

The Main Street Approach is also unique in that it tackles multiple problems throughout the community at once. Instead of relying on a single “white knight,such as a stadium or a company to save a community, Main Street rebuilds a downtown by leveraging its local assets like heritage, historic buildings, independent businesses, walkable streets, and events. Community projects and improvements are done incrementally

Gradual successes over time have made Manassas a place where people want to spend time and money again.

Downtown’s revitalization got a jump start in the 1990s when Virginia Railway Express started commuter service and the museum was built, which created an attraction for new visitors. Businessman Loy E. Harris sustained the momentum by restoring three historic buildings, including the 1906 Opera House. 

This motivated others to fix up their buildings, too, and new businesses began opening. Later, the community was given a place to gather when a vacant half-acre lot in the heart of downtown was transformed into the city square and an all-season pavilion, which was named after Harris.

HMI isn’t resting on its laurels; it continues to work in partnership with the City and local businesses to strengthen the downtown. It hosts a full calendar of events all year long and supports those produced by others

In September alone, the Historic Downtown Manassas Bridal Showcase will show off the local businesses that make Manassas a perfect wedding destination, while Bands, Brews & Barbecue turn the City into a regional entertainment destination. Manassasgrowing cluster of restaurants was made even stronger when the Battle Street enhancements created space for outdoor dining. And, excitement continues to grow with each new piece of public art, arts-oriented venue, and gallery.

‘Little Bits’ of art appear in Downtown Manassas

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Little Bits of art are popping up all over Historic Downtown Manassas.

There’s a stylized snake coiled around electrical conduit painted by local artist Michelle Frantz near the newly opened Center Street Gourmet Wine and Cheese store on the corner of West and Center Streets.

A steel door on the rear of City Hall was painted in Trompe-L’oeil style to represent a lion head fountain by commission artist Stephen Morales and adjacent individual bricks have been painted by local artists including gallery owner Mary Reilly.

In front of Downtown favorite Okra’s restaurant is a fire hydrant stylistically rendered as a Dalmatian from Manassas Fire Company 501 by artist and gallery owner Mike Flynn.

Near CutRate Barbershop, a veteran owned business across Center Street from Carmello’s and Monza’s, is a sidewalk bench converted into an American Flag by City Economic Development Director Patrick Small and Michelle Frantz.

These are a just few of the completed and in-progress projects that are laying the groundwork for the City to attract artists from across the region to express their creativity using public infrastructure and private buildings as their canvass.

Manassas is seeking local artists who have an interest in contributing to the work going on Downtown. A local ad hoc committee comprised of City officials, artists and citizens has plenty of ideas about potential projects. These include painting utility boxes, light poles and tree grates.

“But we are really looking for artists to propose projects to us” says Manassas Economic Development Director Patrick Small. “Creativity and inspiration are some of the unique traits artists possess. I want people interested in participating to walk around Historic Downtown and develop their own ideas.”

Proposals must be submitted as a rendering or in descriptive enough a manner that the committee can visualize the project and the artist must identify the piece of infrastructure and the types of materials that will be used.  

Initially the committee has focused on small projects (#LittleBits) but hopes to expand into promoting murals and sculpture soon. Because Downtown is officially designated as an historic district, painting murals on buildings requires specific standards and a more official review process.

Manassas has an architectural review board that will consider ways to allow building owners to do this. While they can be complicated to produce, murals are really just paintings and do not affect the historic integrity of the structures.

This type of art is considerably more involved from a time and materials perspective so while there may be some artists willing to undertake a project using their own resources, generally murals are commissioned works. The committee hopes to identify businesses, building owners and donors willing to commission these works.  

Visit www.visitmanassas.org/artful-manassas or contact Patrick Small at psmall@manassasva.gov to learn how to participate.

Manassas a magnet for creative, performing arts

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The Arts and Tourism District is in Historic Downtown Manassas.

Manassas already boasted the renowned Center for the Arts where visual and performing arts are taught, practiced and displayed as well as the highly regarded local studios and galleries, Creative Brush and ArtBeat. But local artists and community leaders wanted more.

The city council has a vision for Manassas to become known as an arts and cultural center in Northern Virginia, and beyond.

Last year the city converted the hallway on the first floor of City Hall into an art gallery aptly named “The Hall at City Hall.” The gallery has featured paintings, photographic art and works by local art students at Osborn High School and changes artwork every six weeks so there are regularly new displays.

Another example is the banner art displayed on light poles throughout Historic Downtown. The juried competition attracted artists from throughout the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Sixty of the more than 130 entries were transformed into public art that is on display seasonally until winter.

Historic Manassas Inc., the city’s Virginia Main Street Program, oversaw the project and intends to repeat it annually. The top -ranked submission, as judged by a panel of professional artists, received a $1,000 cash prize and at the end of the season one artist will be awarded the “People’s Choice” prize of $500. Ballots for this are included in a brochure describing each piece and available at the City’s visitor center in the historic train station adjacent to the municipal parking garage.

But it’s not all just about the visual arts.

Manassas also boasts the second largest ballet company in Virginia. The work of the Manassas Ballet Theater is recognized in the national and international press.

This attention helps contribute to Manassas becoming known as a regional arts and tourist destination. Further, Manassas worked closely with George Mason University, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and Prince William County to bring the Hylton Performing Arts Center from dream to reality. The city continues to provide support to ensure the performing arts venue remains an asset for the citizens of Manassas and the surrounding area as well as attracting visitors.

There are many other local performing and visual arts groups and businesses in the city too numerous to mention in this article; all of which exist to teach, promote or display the vibrant culture of this historic yet modern city.

The ladies who bring history to life at Civil War Weekend in Manassas

Civil War Weekend is not just about fighting and strategy.  It’s about the upheavals of lives and it’s about the lives of women during the Civil War.  

Living historians will portray Clara Barton, the famous Civil War nurse; Dorothea Dix, an American activist who created the first American mental asylums; Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln’s seamstress and confidante; the wives of Generals Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and Isaac Trimble.  Barbara Smith and Hendrina Appelt will speak to audiences about the role of women in the war.

Tracey McIntire and Dr. Audrey Scanlan-Teller will speak about the experiences of more than four hundred women who disguised themselves as men and served in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. They will speak not only about individual soldiers, but about gender roles and military culture during the era.

Inside the Manassas Museum, join museum curator Mary Helen Dellinger for Chats with the Curator.  These will highlight unusual items in the Museum collection. Prince William County Historic Site Operations Supervisor Rob Orrison will speak about the joint city-county exhibit, New World Aristocracy: The Carters of Virginia, and guest curator Chesney Rhodes will speak about her exhibit, Partisans Among Playmates: American Childhood and the Civil War.

At nearby Liberia Plantation, 8601 Portner Avenue, stroll through the shade-filled grounds and hear the accounts of well-known Confederate Spy Rose Greenhow, portrayed by Emily Lapisardi. A living historian who has presented historical impersonations in nine states and the District of Columbia, Lapisardi will tell the stories of Liberia’s connection to Civil War spy rings and Greenhow’s ability to glean information from Union admirers. 

Interpreter Marion Dobbins will bring to life a more local slave experience as she presents a portrayal of slave life at Liberia, once the largest slave-holding plantation in the area. Dobbins will also cook over an open fire, and talk about African-American “foodways” and culture.

Check manassasmuseum.org/civilwar for the weekend’s latest schedule.

 

History comes to life for upcoming Manassas Civil War Weekend

 

Manassas Civil War Weekend is August 21-23

There was much more to the Civil War than bloody battles, endless strategizing, and the stands of famous generals.

This year, in addition to featuring portrayals of well-known generals and studies of tactics, the fourth annual Manassas Civil War Weekend will also bring to life the experiences of women on both the home front and in the conflict.

The weekend’s free events, from August 21-23, promises to engage visitors of all ages and interests with the sights, sounds and scents of Civil War-era Manassas. Speakers and performers will reveal many stories about the stark reality of war.

The weekend begins with a keynote address by well-known Civil War re-enactor Al Stone, who has been portraying General Robert E. Lee for more than 20 years to nationwide audiences. Stone will portray Lee in his reflective post-war years, when he became president of what was then called Washington College in Lexington, Va., later renamed Washington & Lee University. His address begins on Friday, Aug. 21 at 7 p.m. on the Manassas Museum lawn.

Many speakers throughout the weekend will focus on the war’s military experience. Richard Killblane, the United States Army Transportation Historian and author of the war history, The Filthy Thirteen, will talk about the logistics of the war. Re-enactors will portray General William Tecumseh Sherman, General Philip T. Sheridan, General Jubal Early, General John B. Gordan, Major Jed Hotchkiss, and General Samuel Cooper. Earl McElfresh, author of Maps and Mapmakers of the Civil War and cartographer and historian for the McElfresh Map Co., will speak about maps during the Civil War.

To lend a different perspective on the war experience, living historians will also portray Clara Barton, the famous Civil War nurse; Dorothea Dix, an American activist who created the first American mental asylums; Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln’s seamstress and confidante; the wives of Generals Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and Isaac Trimble; and Barbara Smith and Hendrina Appelt, who will talk about the role of women in the war.

Tracey McIntire and Dr. Audrey Scanlan-Teller will speak about the experiences of more than four hundred women who disguised themselves as men and served in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. They will speak not only about individual soldiers, but about gender roles and military culture during the era.

Visit www.manassasmuseum.org for the weekend’s latest schedule.

New skate park coming to Manassas

On Sunday, July 19, Vice Mayor Jon Way and Councilmembers Mark Wolfe and Sheryl Bass joined skater Oscar Medrano, a rising senior from Osbourn High School and others to break ground on a new skate park at Jennie Dean Park.  

This park will replace the Old Town Skate Park that had to be torn down to make room for the new Baldwin Elementary and Intermediate School.

This new park will feature a concrete surface, a huge upgrade from the asphalt surface from the previous skate park. It will also include several new features such as grind boxes, and new rail and bank ramps. In an effort to be earth conscious, the previous ramps will be refurbished and located within the new skate park.

Community Development Director Liz Via-Gossman credited skate boarders Oscar Medrano and Diego Patrick for coming forward when the new school was first being discussed to press City officials to provide a place for skateboarding. 

“The kids, most of them city residents from our schools, spoke at public hearings and hosted city officials at a skate competition to show us how important their skate park was to them,” said Via-Gossman.

The skateboarders formed a committee to work with City staff on the improved design within an acceptable budget.  The new skate park replaces two under-utilized basketball courts that will be replaced elsewhere in the park when Jennie Dean Park undergoes an updated master plan effort later in the year.

A grand opening is planned for Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015.  The park was designed by American Ramp Company from Joplin, MO and the new features are being constructed at their plant in Missouri.  The concrete work is being completed by Toro Concrete, Inc.  

Why Manassas Regional Airport code is HEF and other fun facts

Manassas, airport, fuel, planes, fly

In May, press was buzzing about the World War II fighter bombers that were based at the Manassas Regional Airport for the Victory Capitol Flyover for the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day. While special events like the flyover, airshows, and the Manassas Runway 10k/5k race help put the airport on people’s radars, many may not know what happens every day at Virginia’s busiest General Aviation airport.

The first order of business is: why is “HEF” Manassas Regional Airport’s identifier code? Richard Allabaugh, who works in airport operations, asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) the same question, but didn’t get a definitive answer.

The FAA uses a computer program to suggest allowable codes from which the airport owner can choose. Codes that are too similar to other airports within 200 nautical miles aren’t allowed. The airport was dedicated as Harry P. Davis Field in honor of Mayor Harry P. Davis, the City’s longest serving Mayor. As a result, “HPD” or “HDF” would seem like the best fit for an airport identifier.

However, Allabaugh wagers an educated guess that those identifiers were probably too close to existing codes and “HEF” was the closest to the airport’s original requested identifiers. 

It’s important to note that Manassas is a General Aviation (GA) airport, not a commercial service airport like Dulles. The main difference is that GA airports do not have commercial airline service, which requires certification by the FAA. However, Manassas Regional voluntarily holds itself to the certification’s standards.

You’ll find many GA airports near major commercial airports because they help relieve air traffic congestion. Manassas Regional Airport was designated by the FAA to be the official reliever airport for Dulles and National airports. When comparing nearby airports, HEF has benefits that its competitors can’t touch.

Pilots arriving at Manassas don’t have to wait behind commercial airliners; aircraft aren’t charged landing fees, and to top it off, fuel is typically cheaper. In comparing today’s retail prices with those at Dulles, jet fuel is $2 cheaper per gallon, and low lead fuel is $3.50 cheaper. Lastly, unlike some GA airports, Manassas Regional offers U.S. Customs services. When considering that HEF and Dulles are both 30 miles away from downtown D.C., a popular destination for airport guests, Manassas is an attractive option.

More than 420 aircraft are based at HEF in hangars that are leased by individuals, private jet owners, and corporations. Last year, there were a total of 82,130 take-offs and landings, but so much more goes on here. For example, there are four flight schools where people can work toward earning their private pilot’s license.

Allabaugh says the airport has more than 25 business tenants. “Some businesses have offices on site because they prefer to be close to their hangars,” he says. “While others, like Aurora Flight Services, locate here so they have the facilities to test their equipment.”

These include companies that specialize in some kind of aeronautical component like aircraft management, charter companies, aircraft sales, and fixed-based operators (FBO). FBOs offer aircraft servicing and accommodations to transient pilots and their passengers. 

The combined flight and business activity is important to the City of Manassas. According to the Virginia Airport System Economic Impact Study of 2011, Manassas Regional Airport contributed more than $234 million and 1,056 jobs to the local economy.

When pressed for interesting stories or celebrity sightings, Allabaugh’s lips are sealed. “There’s nothing I can tell you,” he says. “People choose us because we are discrete.”

Learn more about the airport online and be sure to check out the History tab to find out the cool story behind how it acquired its air traffic control tower.

Celebrate America in style in Manassas July 4

Fireworks show, watermelon, and pie contests planned 

On Saturday, July 4, 2015, Celebrate America with the City of Manassas from 3 to 10 p.m. in Historic Downtown Manassas.

The celebration begins with the Bicycle Decorating contest. At 5 p.m. visitors are invited to take part in a Watermelon-eating contest.

Next, Judges from around the City will lend their culinary expertise to judge the Apple and Peach Pie Baking Contest. This is Americana at its best. To sign up for these contests, visit visitmanassas.org.

Visitors can bring a blanket or a lawn chair to lay claim to a spot for viewing the best fireworks in Virginia. Beginning at 3 p.m., there will be children’s rides, food vendors, and other vendors. The celebration centers around the Harris Pavilion, the Manassas Museum and the Train Depot.

The City of Manassas loves pets, but pets do not love loud noises. Their ears are more sensitive and the City asks that pets be left at home in the air conditioning. This time of year, streets and sidewalks are hot enough to burn puppy paws.

Manassas awarded for Civil War Sesquicentennial celebration

The City of Manassas, along with Prince William County, were the recipients of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission’s Leadership Award for the area’s efforts in commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War during the past seven years.

The City of Manassas partnered with Prince William County, the Prince William County Historic Preservation Division and many area museums, parks, and historic sites to coordinate dozens of local events that brought history to life for thousands of residents and visitors from across the country. The Prince William County/Manassas Committee began meeting in 2007, and helped plan and promote the signature 2011 Sesquicentennial commemoration at multiple sites across the city and county.

The local committee also fostered a strong partnership with the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission. The Manassas Museum hosted both the Commission’s traveling exhibit, An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia, and the Legacy Project, an effort to scan and archive the Civil War-era documents of local residents. The city also twice hosted another of the Commission’s traveling exhibits, the award-winning Civil War 150 HistoryMobile.

On average, more than 11,000 visitors a day attended events in the city during the four-day July 2011 Sesquicentennial commemoration despite an average heat index of 103 to 105 degrees. The city saw a 14% increase in meals taxes and a 55% increase in sales taxes during the month of the event, and garnered significant national media attention for its expansive free programs.

The annual Manassas Civil War Weekend, scheduled for August 21-23 this year, was created as a result of the popularity of the 2011 and 2012 Sesquicentennial commemorations held throughout the City of Manassas. The Weekend’s program tells the story not just of Civil War battles, but of the War’s impact on civilians and African-Americans.

The Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission was created by the General Assembly to plan and commemorate Civil War events in the Commonwealth. The Commission officially ended its work this year with a Memorial Day award ceremony and concert on the Capitol steps in Richmond. Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell served as Chairman, and State Senator Charles J. Colgan, Sr., served as Vice-Chairman of the Commission.

You’ll be surprised at the local artifacts featured in the ‘Hometown Tourist’ exhibit in Manassas

Manassas Museum ‘Hometown Tourist” exhibit coming to Bull Run Regional Library 

Trade your suitcase for some walking shoes and be a Manassas hometown tourist this summer. If walking shoes aren’t an option, take a virtual tour.

The new Manassas Historical Sites Map Tour lets you click on a map to find in-depth information about the city’s eight historic properties. The tour includes photographs, little-known stories about people and places associated with the site, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and information about visiting in person. Visit manassasmuseum.org/tour to access the tour.

The Manassas Museum is taking to the road for a new summer travelling exhibit, Hometown Tourist, at the Bull Run Regional Library. The exhibit features artifacts, old post cards, and archaeology from nine area historic sites: The Southern Railway Depot, the Hopkins Candy Factory, Liberia Plantation, the Stone House, the Manassas City Cemetery, the Manassas Museum (built on land where Eastern College once stood), the Manassas Industrial School, the former Grace United Methodist Church (now Bull Run Unitarian), and the Albert Speiden House.

Most of the City’s nationally significant historic sites are open free every day and offer interpretive signage that tells their story. Take along the mobile version of the Manassas Historical Sites Map Tour as you visit the Manassas Museum, the Southern Railway Depot, the Hopkins Candy Factory, Liberia Plantation, Mayfield and Cannon Branch Earthwork Forts, and the Manassas Industrial School/Jennie Dean Memorial to enhance your experience.

If you would like to learn even more about the sites, guided walking tours of Historic Downtown Manassas are offered every Thursday and Friday at Noon, and Liberia House tours are offered Sundays at Noon through the summer. Meet at the Manassas Museum, 9101 Prince William Street, for the Downtown tours, and at Liberia, 8601 Portner Avenue, for the Sunday tours.

Call 703-268-1873 or visit manassasmuseum.org for more information.

History thundering toward Manassas Railway Festival

 

Norfolk Southern is bringing Steam Engine 611 to the City of Manassas during the 21st Annual Manassas Heritage Railway Festival on Saturday, June 6. The “611” belongs to the Virginia Museum of Transportation, but Norfolk Southern will have it out for 11 round-trip single day excursions beginning with the Railway Festival on Saturday.

Along with excursion rides on 611, there will be VRE rides for the younger set. Also featured at the Railway Festival are model trains, train memorabilia, live entertainment and great food. This is an event not to be missed!

So, what does it take to “Fire Up 611?” Other than 10,000 hours of volunteer labor, it takes about 25,000 gallons of water for each trip of about 100 miles. This Steam Engine rolled off the line on May 29, 1950 and traveled nearly three million miles before its retirement in 1957 when diesel became the more price-conscious option. 611 was in such great condition, she was selected to pull the company’s “farewell to steam” excursions in October 1959.

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In 1981, Norfolk Southern president Robert Claytor sent 611 to the Norris Steam Shop in Birmingham, Alabama. The 611 became the star of the Norfolk Southern steam program pulling excursions throughout the eastern U.S.

While previously limited to the N&W’s system, 611 was able to travel as far south as Florida, as far north as New York, and as far west as Chicago. For 22 years she traversed the mainlines recreating the golden age of American railroading and inspiring a new generation of steam fans. Norfolk Southern decided to end the program in 1994. The 611 returned to her hometown of Roanoke, Va. to once again serve as a static display.

If you prefer not to take a ride, 611 will be available for picture opportunities at the 21st Annual Manassas Heritage Railway Festival at about 1 p.m. For more information on 611, visit fireup611.org.

On Friday, June 5, from 5 to 9 p.m. come to First Friday in Historic Downtown. The June First Friday features corn hole playing and corn hole tournaments throughout downtown, plus, great food and wonderful shops.

On Sunday, June 7, get ready for the Taste of Historic Manassas from noon to 4:30 p.m. This annual event transforms Historic Downtown Manassas into a lively festival with local entertainment and lots of great food.

For more information on these and other events in the City of Manassas, visit visitmanassas.org.

Manassas City businesses rise and shine at appreciation breakfast

Close to 100 people gathered at the Center for the Arts for the inaugural Manassas Business Appreciation Breakfast where they celebrated the City’s entrepreneurial spirit and thriving business community. The City of Manassas and the Prince William Chamber of Commerce hosted the event to recognize local businesses.

In his opening remarks, Mayor Harry J. Parrish II thanked the audience for choosing Manassas and “for all that you bring to the community.” Beyond creating jobs and boosting the local economy, he acknowledged the many business leaders who serve on boards and commissions and participate in the robust calendar of events.

See photos from the event

Those in the room took a moment to welcome the newcomers to downtown, which include Amy’s Bridal, Totally Vintage Designs, and Scatter Seeds as well as the soon-to-open Cut Rate Barbershop and Jitterbug ice cream shop. H Mart and Firehouse Subs, which recently opened on Liberia Avenue, were recognized as well. Dalena Kanouse, the CEO of MTCI Management and Training Consultants, Inc., and incoming chair of the Prince William Chamber, pointed out that her well-established company was once a newcomer to the City of Manassas. She told the tight-knit business community that MTCI moved from Dumfries to take advantage of the opportunities in Manassas and are happy to be here.

Existing businesses in the City are flourishing, too. Fauquier Bank relocated within the City to accommodate its anticipated expansion. Malone’s opened a second floor to accommodate their growing business. Another expansion in the City is Aurora Flight Science who are sub-leasing the airport’s FlightWorks hanger and envision creating 50 new jobs over the next several years. B. Hayes Framme, advisor for infrastructure and development for the Commonwealth of Virginia, acknowledged that most businesses have “Chief ‘Everything’ Officers.” He also identified high-growth opportunities in Virginia like cyber security and biotechnology and discussed incentives and policies that support job creation.

The City strives to create a business-friendly environment and is always interested in speaking to prospective business owners who wish to join this supportive community. For more information, call the economic development department at 703-257-8881.

They’ve been buying and riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles in Manassas for 30 years

Harley davidson, manassas, motorcycles

Mayor Harry J. Parrish II congratulated Whitt’s Harley-Davidson this week on their 30th Anniversary. Whitt’s is the oldest dealership in Northern Virginia and will be celebrating their anniversary with year long activities. This includes taking part in Rolling Thunder on Sunday, May 24 and an open house on Saturday, May 23 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“We enjoy celebrating these milestones with City businesses,” said City Manager William Patrick Pate. “The City looks forward to the next 30 years working with Whitt’s Harley-Davidson.”

See more photos of the Whitt’s Harley-Davidson 30th anniversary celebration.

This dealership has been in business since March 1985. The current Center Street location, formerly Southern States, was built in 1957. It still has the railroad tracks in the back of the property. In June 1998, T. Ellsworth Davison purchased the property and relocated his dealership from a 5,000 square foot building to the current 30,000 square foot building. The renovated showroom gleams with new paint and chromed Harley motorcycles.

The City of Manassas values all of its businesses, whether they are new to the City, like Manassas Olive Oil or Totally Vintage Designs, or they are celebrating a monumental anniversary, like Whitt’s Harley-Davidson.

Also celebrating a momentous anniversary is Heltzel Mortgage. They are celebrating 50 years in business. Originally founded in 1965 as the Robert Heltzel Company, became the Hetzel Mortgage Corporation in 1980. Heltzel Mortgage will be celebrating their 50th with a free community concert at the Harris Pavilion on May 29 from 7 to 11 p.m.

The City of Manassas is proud of Whitt’s Harley Davidson and all of those businesses that have such a long history of success in Manassas. Especially during Business Appreciation Month, it is important to make acknowledgements of these successes. If you or someone you know is celebrating a milestone anniversary, let us know at 703-257-8881.

21st Annual Manassas Heritage Railway Festival

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Can you hear the far off whistle? Can you feel the rumble as the train lumbers down the tracks?

Get ready! The 21st Annual Manassas Heritage Railway Festival is on June 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Historic Downtown Manassas. This is a family-friendly celebration of railroad history.

There will be live performances on two stages. Folsom Prisoners, Justin Trawick and High Grass Bluegrass Band are a few of the performers lined up for the day. Enjoy great food and lots to see and do. Take a train ride on the  a VRE train with a princess for $6 per person, or just peruse the memorabilia and the model trains under the Harris Pavilion.

On Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7, the inaugural trips of the 611 Steam Train will be rolling through the City. Norfolk & Western 611 will pull passengers from Manassas to Front Royal and back. This is part of Norfolk Southern’s 21st Century Steam program.

Owned by the Virginia Museum of Transportation, 611 recently underwent a massive restoration after more than two decades in retirement. The Steam Engine will be available for photos near the Harris Pavilion after its Saturday trip. Tickets for both trips start at $109 and may be purchased online.

Whether you are a railroad enthusiast or just looking for something to do, this event is a great way to spend a Saturday.

On Friday, June 5, from 5 to 9 p.m. come to First Friday in Historic Downtown. The June First Friday features corn hole playing and corn hole tournaments throughout downtown, plus, great food and wonderful shops.

On Sunday, June 7, get ready for the Taste of Historic Manassas from noon to 4:30 p.m. This annual event transforms Historic Downtown Manassas into a lively festival with local entertainment and lots of great food. For more information on these and other events in the City of Manassas, go to visitmanassas.org.

Manassas says ‘thank you’ to city business owners over breakfast

The City of Manassas partnered today with the Prince William Chamber of Commerce to recognize city business owners. 

A special breakfast was held at the Center for the Arts at the Candy Factory in Downtown Manassas.

Business owners were invited to attend the event free of charge. 

See photos from the event

Learn more about the city’s business appreciation breakfast

For City of Manassas business owners, breakfast is on us

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City of Manassas, Prince William Chamber of Commerce team to recognize city businesses 

To thank the businesses owners and operators who choose to be located in the city, the City of Manassas and the Prince William Chamber are hosting a free Manassas Business Appreciation Breakfast on Wednesday, May 6, from 8 – 10 a.m. at the Center for the Arts, located at 9419 Battle Street.

“Seats are going fast,” says Economic Development Director Patrick Small. “We want to honor as many of our businesses as possible at this exclusive event.” Local businesses are encouraged to spend the morning networking and hearing from the Mayor, Council and State Economic Development Leaders. To register for the event, contact Anita Duecaster at the Chamber at 571-765-1876. Space is limited.

Each year in May the Commonwealth of Virginia pauses to recognize the many contributions that private enterprise and entrepreneurs make to the quality of life for residents. At a recent City Council meeting, Mayor Harry J. Parrish II proclaimed May as Business Appreciation Month in the City of Manassas.

The City of Manassas has more than 1,400 business establishments within its boundaries and that number is growing every day. More than 14,000 people commute into the city to work each day with about 7,000 commuting out of the City. City of Manassas businesses range from new start-ups to Fortune 500 corporations.

There are unique shops, one-of-a-kind restaurants offering a spectrum of cuisines, two breweries and a brand new distillery. The Manassas Regional Airport is home to more than 25 businesses employing more than 1,050 people. The City’s Economic Development Department partners with the Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the business community and all that they bring to the community.

The breakfast is free to one registered person per business.

This promoted post is sponsored by City of Manassas, Virginia in recognition of the many business owners who help grow and sustain community.

Manassas emergency workers used a hearse to respond to calls for help

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Starting May 1, the Manassas Museum will debut their newest exhibit on the fire, rescue and police equipment used in the community. 

The museum will be hosting a reception at 6 p.m. and serve refreshments to residents looking to learn more about public safety history in the City of Manassas.

One of the unique highlights of the exhibit is the fact that back in the 1960s, responders in a hearse answered emergency response calls.

Before the first public safety group, the Manassas Volunteer Rescue Squad, was created in 1966, it was the Baker Funeral Home that would bring patients for medical treatment and respond to emergency scenes. 

Manassas didn’t see a modernized police and fire department structure until the 1950s, and relied on mainly volunteer services.

This exhibit, which displays the evolution of Manassas and its public safety organizations, coincides with the World Police and Fire Games, which are being hosted in Prince William County this summer.

“Our Fire, Rescue and Police personnel run into a building when others run out,” said Mayor Harry J. Parrish II.  “It is that courage and compassion for others that helps keep this City safe and well protected.”

The Manassas Museum will showcase the exhibit until July 15.

“I hope visitors and residents will come out for this exhibit. Our Police, and Fire and Rescue staff are top in their field and our volunteers are some of the most dedicated people I’ve met,” said City Manager W. Patrick Pate. 

This promoted post is brought to you by the City of Manassas and Historic Manassas, Inc.  

Look up, see great art in Historic Downtown Manassas

manassas art streetlight 3If you are walking or driving through Historic Downtown Manassas, make sure to look up at the light poles that line the city streets. There are 60 original pieces of art hanging from the downtown light poles.

Over the winter months, Historic Manassas, Inc. in partnership with the City of Manassas, held a Banner Art Competition. This competition was for artists from Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. to create original art that, if selected, would hang from the City of Manassas’ light poles. The competition was the brainchild of Debbie Haight from Historic Manassas, Inc. who formed a small committee to make the dream a reality.

manassas art streetlight 2More than 130 pieces of art were submitted for the competition. In February, members of the community gathered to select the 60 pieces of art that would hang on the light poles. This gathering included City Council members, students, business leaders, and community members. From the 60 selected pieces of art, one grand prize winner, who will receive $1,000, will be announced at an awards presentation during the spring gallery walk on May 1, 2015.

manassas art streetlightAll summer long residents and visitors are invited to look at the banners and select their favorite for the “people’s choice” winner. In the fall, the artist who painted the people’s favorite piece will receive $500. A walking tour brochure of the banners will be available after May 1. This will have information about each piece and information on how to vote in the “people’s choice” competition.

So, the next time you are in Historic Downtown Manassas, make sure to take the time to look up and appreciate the art.

It’s time for fresh, locally grown food

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On April 9 the City of Manassas Farmer’s Market opened for the season. This is the 24th season the City’s Farmer’s Market has been delivering fresh produce and goods to residents and visitors of the City of Manassas. On Thursdays, the Farmer’s Market is located in the Harris Pavilion and on Saturdays it is located in parking lot B or the water tower lot. Both markets are open from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.   In June, July and August there is a summer evening market from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Harris Pavilion.

About five years ago the City’s Farmer’s Market became a SNAP distributor by applying to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service. This opened the door for people that are receiving assistance to purchase fresh fruits and vegetable from the market. In addition, Historic Manassas, Inc. has formed a partnership with INOVA, who supplied matching funds for dollars spent by SNAP recipients. The City of Manassas Farmers Market was one of the very first in this region to be able to offer this service to customers.

Jeff Adams has been selling Walnut Hill Farms poultry, eggs, pork, beef and lamb at the market for about five years. His motto is “from birth to plate, we know what we ate.” Jeff is a former biology teacher and telephone company employee. He bought his farm in 2001 after saying goodbye to corporate America.

Ron Burleson of Skyline Premium Meats has been a part of the City of Manassas Farmer’s Market for seven seasons.   Burleson and his wife, Suzy run a farm in Unionville, Virginia, where they raise calves. Ron and Suzy also maintain a greenhouse, and depending on the season, produce eggs. They raise an array of annuals; from hanging baskets to potted vegetable plants and beautiful handmade Christmas wreaths in the winter season. 

These are just two of the many wonderful vendors at the City of Manassas Farmer’s Market. Visit the City of Manassas Farmer’s Market soon!

Manassas Airshow Bringing in the Big Jets

The Manassas Airshow is bringing in Breitling Jet Team
The Manassas Airshow will take place Saturday, May 2.
This is the flattest run in the area, on the runway.
The 3rd Dimension Parachute Team.

On May 2, 2015, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the Manassas Airshow is bringing in Breitling Jet Team, the largest professional civilian flight jet team. This team demonstrates aerobatics with precision, speed, mastery and style. The Breitling Team coordinates a meticulous ballet in which planes sometimes fly within three meters of each other at speeds of over 700 kilometers  per hour.

They are really a sight to see and the event is free to the public. 

Also performing this year are the 3rd Dimension Parachute Team, the American Helicopters Demonstration Team, Andrew McKenna P-51 and T-6 Aerobatics, the Flying Circus Stearman Flight, Scott Francis MXS Aerobatics, Jack Knutson Extra 300 Aerobatics, Matt Chapman CAP 580 Aerobatics, Randy Devere CJ-6 Aerobatics and there will be an RC Modeler Jet Demonstration. Along with these performers, the Manassas Airshow offers aircraft displays, military re-enactors and much more.

Also at the Manassas Regional Airport on April 26 at 7:30 a.m. runners will be getting ready to race the Manassas Runway 10K/5K presented by the Bull Run and Manassas Rotary Clubs. This is the flattest run in the area, being held on the actual runway.

The Texas Raiders B-17 will be at the Manassas Regional Airport from May 3 to 6 offering rides on their B-17, which is one of only eleven B-17 flying fortresses still flying today. On May 8 from noon to 1 p.m. 15 historically sequenced warbird formations will participate in the World War II Victory Capitol Flyover in honor of the 70th Anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day. While several of these majestic warbirds are visiting the Manassas Regional Airport, they will be giving tours, May 9-10 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information on any of these events, visit manassascity.org/airportevents.

Manassas celebrates Founders’ Day on First Friday, April 3

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When you say the words “Founders’ Day” it brings back images of a kinder, gentler time when people shared stories on front porches. The City of Manassas is celebrating Founders’ Day on First Friday, April 3, with restaurant specials, shops staying open late and, of course, birthday cake.

Stores and restaurants will be focusing on the history of the city and the buildings they inhabit.

This celebration is the brainchild of Councilman Ian Lovejoy. He was curious about the actual date the town was founded and in researching that date, found that the City was recognized as a town on April 2, 1873 by the General Assembly. The area was known as Tudor Hall, prior to that, until William S. Fewell, who owned the land, laid out the first six blocks and began selling lots.

The first official council meeting was held on May 17, 1873. Due to the town’s growth over the years, the town submitted a request to the General Assembly and in 1975 officially became the City of Manassas. From humble beginnings in 1873 as a half mile town concentrated along the railroad tracks, the City of Manassas grew to 10 square miles of homes, schools, shops and restaurants and more than 40,000 residents.

This Founders’ Day, come celebrate with the City of Manassas in Historic Downtown from 6 to 9 p.m. The Manassas Museum will host a City of Manassas trivia contest and a book signing. Love, Charley will offer cake, The Bone will have a beer garden and City Square Café is offering a three course dinner special and encouraging diners to dress in period attire. These are just a few of the offerings for First Friday. For more offerings and information, visit visitmanassas.org.

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