Grab your car keys! Out and about after Thanksgiving

Staff Writer

After the turkey dinner and its fixings have been put in the fridge, the in-laws have headed home and the children have been put to bed, there’s a little bit of time to plan some fun for the weekend.

From Thanksgiving Day runs to a family-friendly walk in the park or a visit to Merchants Square for the annual Christmas tree lighting, there’ll be plenty to do throughout Greater Williamsburg.

Big Turkey Burn 5K Turkey Trot

It may not be the biggest turkey trot in Williamsburg, but the event won’t interfere with any Thanksgiving Day plans — it’s on Saturday.

Event organizer Ann Hupp of Mettle Events said holding the event on Thanksgiving Day could interfere with family plans to sit down and enjoy the little moments that turn into lifelong memories.

Registration for the 1 mile, 5K or fun run events will start at Billsburg Brewery in James City County at 9 a.m. Saturday, according to the event website.

The race fills a gap in the area, according to Billsburg founder and owner Dave Baum.

“When we looked at the calendar we noticed there were many Thanksgiving day runs on Thanksgiving day from Hampton Roads to Richmond, but nothing after you eat all the food,” Baum said. “We didn’t want to interrupt existing local 5K runs, so we thought it was best to go with a Saturday family fun day concept.”

Register for the run ahead of time at athlinks.com/event/194710.

Registration is $35 before race day and $40 on race day.

Ice skating in Merchants Square

Tis the season to break out the hockey sweaters and skates for a trip around Liberty’s Ice Pavillion.

In picturesque Merchants Square, the ice rink awaits.

Afterward, you can stop by the concessions stand for a cup of hot cocoa or cider and a snack.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for kids ages 3 to 12. Skate rentals cost $4.25 after tax.

Quiet, but not too quiet weekend activities

From its dog park to the 18-hole disc golf course, Williamsburg’s Waller Mill Park has plenty of offerings and is only closed on Thanksgiving Day this week.

Right off Airport Road, the park has miles of walking trails around Waller Mill Reservoir as well as disc golf and pier fishing.

The rental office will be open during its normal business hours, parking costs $2 per vehicle. Disc golf costs $2 per person and $1 per disc rental.

Sparkleland and the Merchants Square Christmas tree lighting

After all the Small Business Saturday shopping is over, stop by the heart of Merchants Square from 5:30-7:30 p.m. for the annual Christmas tree lighting.

Join friends and neighbors in holiday caroling, hot cocoa and chestnuts roasting over an open fire courtesy of the Blue Talon Bistro.

The tree lighting will kick off the start of Sparkleland on the Square — a holiday season event that will feature Christmas crafts, Santa and more, according to Colonial Williamsburg.

Sparkleland on the Square starts Thanksgiving Day.

Make your own adventure in area parks

Parks and trails throughout Greater Williamsburg will remain open throughout the weekend, which makes them a perfect place to pack up turkey sandwiches and take a family picnic to savor the peace and quiet.

While county parks’ administrative offices will be closed from Thanksgiving through the weekend, county parks administrator Nancy Ellis said families can still get outside and enjoy nature.

Ellis recommends a trip to Freedom Park. Recognized as the county’s most historically significant park, according to James City County Parks and Recreation, Freedom Park was the home of one of the earliest free black settlements in the United States.

Now, it serves as a testament to history with three recreated cabins from the period, an 18th-century cemetery and interpretive signs to tell the stories of the past.

Near the entrance to the park is the Williamsburg Botanical Garden so families can take a minute and smell the flowers

The best part: there’s no cost to visit at James City County parks.

Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at srobertsjr@vagazette.com and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.

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