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The Downtown Mall and Cultural Events

IN CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia theatre-goers attend on-Grounds productions at UVA by the Virginia Players and the Heritage Theatre Festival or performances by the Four County Players and the Light Opera Society. Music-lovers look forward to UVA’s Tuesday Evening Concert series or concerts by local bands and symphony orchestras. University students, community members of all ages and visitors to the area enjoy fine art from around the world at the permanent galleries and special exhibitions at the University of Virginia Art Museum and private galleries on the Downtown Mall. The city also supports a number of art venues and 25 movie theatres.

The area celebrates Spring with a Dogwood Festival and Parade every April, highlighted by blooming azaleas, dogwood and redbud trees. The Virginia Festival of the Book, which brings together readers, editors, publishers, and writers from around the country for lectures, seminars, and discussions about literature, poetry, and nonfiction, also occurs in spring.

Summer events include the weekly after-work celebration — Fridays After Five — a lively concert series at the grassy amphitheatre at the western end of the historic downtown mall.

Summer also brings a Fourth of July celebration at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s beautiful estate.

Fall brings regional fairs to the area, wine tasting tours, and breathtaking scenic drives through the Blue Ridge Mountains to view the instensely colorful foliage.

Every Winter brings “First Night Virginia”‘s New Year’s Eve family-friendly festivities, featuring live music, entertainment, and fireworks at midnight on the mall. Join us!

Featured Articles

Tell Me About Charlottesville, Virginia

Named in honor of Princess Charlotte, the wife of King George III (yes, that King George), Charlottesville was settled in the eighteenth century on a hill overlooking the majestic Rivanna River. Today, Charlottesville is a thriving city that has kept up with the times while not sacrificing a love for tradition and good taste.

The city’s population is over 50,000 with a metropolitan population nearing 220,000. There are few places in the United States that combine a picturesque and cultivated countryside that is so rich in historical associations with the proximity of a magnificent national park and cultural opportunities beyond compare.

In July 2008, Outside Magazine recognized Charlottesville as a top place to live in the U.S. In 2008, Forbes Magazine and Money Magazine also named Charlottesville among the best cities in the United States. In their book, Cities Ranked and Rated, Bert Sperling and Peter Sander place Charlottesville in the top 5 percent among the best places to live in the United States. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, the country’s largest private, nonprofit historic preservation organization, named Charlottesville to its 2007 listing of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations, an annual list of lovingly preserved places. In May 2009, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine named Charlottesville the “Number Four City” in the U.S.A. Kiplinger’s writes that Charlottesville is a “great city” because of top-flight employers such as the University of Virginia, attractions like the outdoor downtown mall, and its close proximity to Richmond, Norfolk and the Atlantic beaches, and Washington, DC (the latter is quite a mixed blessing, of course!).

Local News

Snow Removal Enforcement Hypocritical?

The Charlottesville Police Department, after a “grace period” to account for the two big snowstorms we’ve had recently, say that they have now “gotten tough” on businesses and homeowners who have not “removed snow from public sidewalks” under their domain –  and have even issued summons for noncompliance.

It’s technically illegal to fail to remove snow on the sidewalks in front of your home once twelve hours have passed since the snow stopped falling — even though those sidewalks don’t belong to you.

Charlottesville’s Lieutenant Gary Pleasants states that most people complied once “warned.”

Police Chief Tim Longo said in January that ordinance wasn’t enforceable because the city of Charlottesville itself hadn’t cleared its walkways. At the time, even Chief Longo hadn’t shoveled his challenging sidewalk — though he now has.

Some citizens have voiced complaints about inconsistency and hypocrisy, though: “How about places where city plows decided to put 6 ft of snow on someone’s sidewalk? And what’s an elderly homeowner to do with 12 hours notice who now has over 1,000 cubic ft of snow to remove or face penalty?” said one. And another commented: “Perhaps the city should first take another look at their own sidewalks! I noticed yesterday that the sidewalks on 5th Street S.W. have not been done yet. In particular, the sidewalks behind the Prospect Avenue complex. People have to walk out in the roadway. The city also won’t clear the roadways. Melbourne Road has a left turn lane onto Rio Road that’s open. The right turn lane onto Park Street has a pile of snow about 200 feet tall. On Park Street turning onto Melbourne Road, the left turn lane is open. The straight through lane onto Rio Road is so narrow I am surprised many cars haven’t been sideswiped. Or maybe they have, I don’t know.”

Local News

Mount Chipotle A Dream for Gamblers?

A group of students at the University of Virginia have set up a betting pool — and possibly a quite profitable one — taking wagers on the huge over-50-foot mountain of snow that plows have created at Charlottesville’s popular Barracks Road Shopping Center.

It’s called Mount Chipotle.

UVA Environmental Sciences student Luke Cole told a local TV station WVIR “We have had aerial fly-overs actually with a small plane. We are trying to map the height and the perimeter of it. It certainly looks like a big north east snow pile that’s made its way down to the mid Atlantic.”

Cole’s department started a betting pool, challenging participants to predict when the mountain will melt — and a source at a local housing rental company says the pool has spread to many downtown businesses: “It’s just a matter of naming the day and putting in ten dollars or more. My money is on early May, but who knows? The thing is just huge. It even has a flag on top of it.”

“Some basic computer models may have been done to try and predict that date. But mostly it’s an educated guess,” according to Cole, who adds that proceeds from the pool will benefit his department.

You can find out more about the mountain, the pool, and even computer models of when the mass will become liquid at

Is the pool legal? Probably not, but law enforcement generally winks at the laws unless someone unpopular breaks them. If controversial recycling magnate Van der Linde was running the pool to pay his legal fees, their response might be different.

Local News

Elisha Strom Arrested Again

Elisha Strom, 35, of Thaxton, Virginia, has been charged (in 2010) with violating a court order.

The former White separatist who was arrested and convicted last year for obstruction of justice due to her stalking, photographing, obsessing over, and blogging about Charlottesville police officers (mainly but not exclusively members of the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement Task Force), has been arrested again this week, this time for allegedly violating the court order she accepted as part of her guilty plea.

It’s not clear exactly what aspect of her order she is accused of violating, but she has continued to follow, photograph, and blog about Charlottesville-area police (including state police) since her conviction. Her work, including her own account of her most recent arrest, can be seen at her I HEARTE JADE blog. According to Strom’s account, she is free on $2,000 bond and her hearing is scheduled in Albemarle County Court in mid-April.