If it’s summer, it’s time for free concerts in the park! Nearly every magisterial district now has a summer concert schedule, but the grand-daddy of them all is Spotlight by Starlight, the free summer concert series at Mason District Park’s Newton Edwards Amphitheatre. You can enjoy a variety of community and professional performers Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m. Saturday morning children’s shows begin at 10. The park is located at 6621 Columbia Pike, just west of its intersection with Sleepy Hollow Road.
This summer’s season features nearly every style of music you can imagine: from balalaika to zydeco, bluegrass to big band. Performances began yesterday with Bruce Ewan (blues) and continue through August 31 with Le Hotclub de Biglick (30s gypsy jazz). Of special note are Ruthie & the Wranglers on June 8, the Capitol Steps on July 24, Falls Church’s own Tom Principato on August 3, and folk legend Tom Paxton on August 5. Military bands featured include the Army Band “Downrange” (rock) on July 17, Navy Band “Sea Chanters” on July 20, and Army Band “Blues Jazz Ensemble” on August 21.
Attending these free summer concerts couldn’t be easier. Come as you are; enjoy a picnic supper before the show; children are welcome, but please remember that it’s a performance, not a playground. Mason District Park has bench seating, but you can bring a lawn chair or blanket if you prefer. Concerts are just about an hour long so you can still get home before it gets too dark. There is plenty of free parking, although it’s best to get there early for some of the more popular groups, and avoid a hike up the hill.
A new venue for Mason District concerts this year is Ossian Hall Park near the intersection of Heritage Drive and Four Year Run, across from Annandale High School. Ossian Hall Park was renovated last year, and was added to Mason District this spring as a result of redistricting. It is a lovely little park, featuring international music and movies on Sunday nights. The concerts start at 7 p.m.; movies begin at dusk. The Ossian Hall lawn accommodates lawn chairs and blankets. Log on to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/performances for more information. See you at the park!
Did you know that Fairfax County has its own version of CSI? The Fairfax County Health Department recently opened a new, state of the art laboratory at the former Belle Willard Elementary School in Fairfax City. The renovated structure was built to gold LEED certification requirements, and is the first lab in the state to be so designated. Instead of crimes, the lab tracks down pathogens that cause disease, and monitors public health afflictions such as HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis, rabies, noroviruses, and food-borne illnesses. Last Friday, the new lab was dedicated to the memory of JoAnne Jorgenson, who was Deputy Director of the Health Department, and retired in 2009 after 38 years of service to Fairfax County. JoAnne was a registered nurse whose life’s work was dedicated to improving the health of her community through advocacy, access, and policy. She was named Virginia’s Public Health Nurse of the Year in 2009.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at [email protected]