Virtual Tours: Curing Corona Cabin Fever

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By Marianne Weaver

We’ve all been stuck inside for what feels like forever. Parties, holidays, weekend get togethers, vacations: all cancelled. School? Canceled. Sports? Canceled. ESPN is showing reruns. Even binge-watching Netflix isn’t curing the cabin fever. What’s a local to do? VisitPWC.com has the answer.

In mid-March, as schools, museums, art galleries and other popular meeting places were closing their  doors, Prince William County’s tourism office sprung into action. A ‘Support Local – #PrinceWilliamStrong’ webpage (visitpwc.com/princewilliamstrong) was launched Friday, March 20, to provide a resource to residents during the COVID-19 health situation.

“The page gives residents a vehicle to engage with and support the local businesses while following the governor’s orders and prevention guidance provided by health officials,” said Ann Marie Maher, CDME, director of tourism. “The page was inspired by the county’s mission to keep the community healthy, safe, connected and supported during this health challenge.”

The page has a little something for everyone: takeout, curbside and delivery dining options; craft beverage producers; open spaces; virtual experiences; gift card ideas, online wellness and fitness classes; hotels; and virtual shopping. There’s even a calendar of upcoming virtual events, which include a chunky knit blanket class, virtual dance breaks and more.

Businesses that would like to participate in the #PrinceWilliamStrong campaign can sign up at surveygizmo.
com/s3/5511773/PWCDineLocal. Here is a snapshot of some of the featured attractions.

Jiffy Lube Live/Live Nation

Keep on rockin’ in the free world. Just because crowds of music lovers can’t convene at Jiffy Lube Live  doesn’t mean the music has to stop. Each day, Live Nation hosts live streams from around the globe as artists perform from their homes sharing music, stories and more.

Some of the artists include Diplo, DJ Questlove, KIDZ BOP, Melissa Etheridge, Jimmy Buffett, Bob Weir, the Disco Biscuits and many more. Artists are updated often. To catch a performance, go to livenation.com/livefromhome.

National Museum of the Marine Corps

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The National Museum of the Marine Corps

Although the National Museum of the Marine Corps is closed, its virtual experience is available 24/7. The interactive virtual environment allows visitors to explore the U.S. Marine Corps’ proud heritage from their desktops. The virtual tour includes full screen, high-definition 360-degree panoramic tours of all the galleries, oral history recordings, walking tour narratives, video interviews and personal recollections by museum docents, zoomable HD photos of special exhibits, and interactive 3-D models of aircraft and other artifacts.

To access the tour, go to virtualusmcmuseum.com.

National Park Service

Stone House is currently available for virtual tour on the NPS website.

The National Park Service has modified its operations on a park-by-park basis in accordance with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local public health authorities. While most facilities are closed, NPS has developed some virtual tours, which can be found at nps.gov/mana/learn/photosmultimedia/virtual-tour.htm.

The site, which is under development, includes photographs and text about each stop of the driving tour. Currently, the tour features the Stone House, which was built during the second quarter of the 19th century.

During the Civil War, it witnessed significant action during the two battles of Manassas. According to the NPS website, the Stone House was purchased by NPS in 1949. During the early 1960s, it underwent a major restoration project, restoring it to its Civil War era appearance. Virtual tours take visitors into the tavern room, decorated room and the information room.

Occoquan

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While you can’t stroll along the river boardwalk in Occoquan, you can
participate in their virtual events to including their upcoming 5k

Although the third annual Occoquan Community Peep Contest had to migrate online this year, Mayor Earnie Porta, JD, Ph.D., said Occoquan residents and businesses are trying to maintain a positive outlook. The town’s virtual 5K marries the need for people to get solitary exercise with the needs of businesses and
nonprofits “People can register for and complete between now and June 10,” said Porta. “In this 5K you can walk, run, bike, hike, kayak, canoe, or SUP the distance anywhere (including on your treadmill at home) and then upload your results.”

Registration costs $25 and a commitment to buy a gift card/gift certificate from an Occoquan business.

“The net proceeds will go to three organizations in town: the Good News Community Kitchen, VFW Post 7916, and the Occoquan Historical Society,” he said. “Participants will get an event T-shirt several weeks after it closes.”

Registration is open at occoquanva.gov/occoquan-virtual-5k/.

Porta also said he encourages the community to consider curbside or pickup-to-go not only from restaurants that offer the service, but also from businesses.

“Puzzle Palooza is doing a brisk curbside, pickup-to-go business,” he said. “Additionally, we are encouraging people to consider ordering gift cards/certificates online or by phone from businesses and having them mailed to them.”

For a list of businesses offering either curbside, pickup-to-go, or shipping services, go to occoquanva.gov/business-online-phonepickup-offerings.

Prince William Historic Preservation

Prince William’s Historic Preservation Division is the caretaker of all county-owned historic structures, interiors, archaeological resources, natural resources, historic landscapes, artifacts and collections. Their goal is to show the connection between history, present and future with growth as a community. They strive to bring history to life through interpretation, research, living history and special events.

But in a time when in-person visits are (mostly) out of the question, the division has taken their tours to YouTube: youtube.com/channel/UCZRGSetuSkClGOYqHMTQEWg/videos.

Kevin Pawlak, historic site manager of Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park (10708 Bristow Road, Bristow), leads a virtual tour of the 140-acre historic site where federal and confederate soldiers fought the Battle of Kettle Run on Aug. 27, 1862, and the Battle of Bristoe Station on Oct. 14, 1863. The peaceful
landscape features more than 2.7 miles of walking and equestrian trails. Wildlife abounds in the fields, woods and ponds. As of press time, the walking paths were opened from sunrise to sunset.

Historic Preservation Division Manager Rob Orrison’s virtual tour of Williams Ordinary (17674 Main St, Dumfries) takes viewers inside the building, which is normally off-limits to residents. The 1790s building now serves as the division’s office in Dumfries, Virginia.

Bill Backus, curator/preservationist, leads a virtual tour of the 1850s Haislip-Hall House located at Brentsville Courthouse Historic Center (12229 Bristow Road, Bristow). The 28-acre Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre includes five historic buildings: 1822 courthouse, 1822 jail, 1880 church, 1850 farmhouse and a one-room schoolhouse that served the young children of Brentsville from 1929 to 1944. Backus’ virtual tour focuses on the house and its long history in the region.

Sweeney Barn

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Sweeney Barn is a rustic indoor/outdoor wedding and event venue in Manassas (Photo by Amanda Baity)

Sweeney Barn (9310 Discovery Blvd., Manassas) was constructed as a one-story dairy barn with a hayloft around 1939. The original owners, the Birkett family, used the barn to house cows waiting to be milked as Prince William County’s dairy industry boomed in the early 20th century.

Alannah and Noel Sweeney said they are avid barn lovers and fell in love with the barn the first time they saw it. They purchased the barn and surrounding land then set out to create their vision of a rustic indoor/outdoor wedding and event venue, featuring an upper balcony and seating for up to 200.

Although large events are on hold for the time being, general manager Andrea Van Wambeke said she and her team are meeting with couples online to plan their events. “We’re meeting our couples in a video chatroom, then walking through the building virtually while answering questions and reviewing our policies — just like we would give a regular tour, but online,” she said. “In a time when couples want to plan their event but can’t leave their homes, it’s exciting to take some initial steps to help develop their vision. We know they will want to see our venue in person once the quarantine lifts, but this gives us a chance to discuss their happy news and get them started on the next steps of wedding planning.”

Find the visual walk through at my.matterport.com/show/?m=nXgQEZAp2pa.

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