As people continue to social distance to prevent the spread of coronavirus, many locals are finding ways to spend time with each other through virtual hangouts.
Matt Chambers, owner of the local company Squared Away Entertainment, had been an active DJ and trivia host in Williamsburg bars for the past two years. But when the coronavirus forced people into their homes, he knew he had to help provide some sense of connection.
That’s why Chambers started offering online trivia nights, game show events and other activities for people to participate in from their couch.
“People have said they’re glad it’s happening because it’s their return to normal,” Chambers said. “And I need it just as much as anyone else because we’re all stuck at home looking for ways to connect.”
When Chambers first started hosting the online activities, he said there were only about 20 people involved and a number of glitches. Now, he has online operations down to a more efficient system and his most recent trivia night hosted more than 40 teams.
Chambers also expanded from just offering trivia to providing activities most nights of the week. His weekly schedule of events is as follows:
- Mondays, Game Night: Wheel of Fortune, 7 p.m.
- Tuesdays, Games Night: Family Feud Live, 7 p.m.
- Thursdays, Game Night: SpeedQuizzing Live, 7 p.m.
- May 1 and May 15, Kids Only Trivia, 4 p.m.
Chambers has also started working with local businesses to offer prizes and sponsorship opportunities during each event.
“I understand, I’m a small business owner myself, so I know it’s impacting others, too,” he said. “The fact that the community is all coming together to help small businesses out is what we need right now and will make us a more tight-knit community.”
Chambers said as the pandemic continues, he wants to find other creative ways to connect with people virtually and provide a sense of closeness during such a difficult time.
Other local organizations and residents are also finding ways to provide virtual interactions, from karaoke to book clubs.
Here are some ways locals can hangout with each other online:
- By Our Shelves, Williamsburg Regional Library’s virtual book club for locals to their current reads at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. every Tuesday.
- Teen Booktalk Tuesdays, Williamsburg Regional Library’s monthly online chats for teens to discuss what they’re reading.
- School of Art, free daily drawing prompts on Facebook and art lessons on Zoom.
- Live from Retro Daddio, a live stream of entertainment from the Retro Daddio stage at 7:30 p.m. on Thurdays and Fridays, 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. on Sundays.
- Virginia Elite Gymnastics Academy, Facebook live activities for children Monday through Thursday at 11 a.m.
- Results Performance Training, virtual free training and daily workouts posted on social media.
- Victory Family YMCA, online exercise videos and live meditation on Facebook Live.
- Piloxing with Colleen, virtual piloxing class from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. every Saturday on Facebook.
- W&M Crisis Conversation Series: Pivoting with Rachel Frazier, a Zoom workshop discussing how small businesses can pivot during times of uncertainty, from 5 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday and 2 to 3 p.m. on Thursday.
- Discovering Your Spark: Virtual Workshop, USO and Military Spouse of the Year, Brittany Boccher, will host a virtual workshop from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. to discuss life and passions with military spouses
- Fearless Karaoke, Facebook Live karaoke sessions, dates and times posted regularly on Facebook.
In addition Barry Trott, director of special projects and technical services for the Williamsburg Regional Library, said virtual events have become popular in the local community.
Most recently the library’s Getaway Cafe, which connects those with memory loss and their caretakers with others, moved online and had nearly as many participants as it did when the event happened in person.
Trott added that the library updates its programming schedule regularly online with new virtual experiences and interactions for locals.