As Independence Day arrives once again this coming Monday, July 4, the nation’s capital will draw large crowds to its staple assortment of parades, live performances, numerous restaurants offering American staples as well as world cuisine, and what many consider to be the “main event” — fireworks at the National Mall.
The National Park Service will once again turn the Mall into a veritable hotspot for a massive fireworks display, launching from both sides of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. But on a local level, Falls Church City will not be hosting a fireworks display this year. Still, there will be a variety of family-friendly events in this area that will provide fun alternatives to the typical “rockets’ red glare” normally associated with Independence Day.
On Sunday, July 3, from 2 — 5 p.m., Falls Church residents and visitors from surrounding areas will be able to participate in a free scavenger hunt organized by the Falls Church Recreation and Parks Department.
Participants will work to find hidden letters in and around three local parks; picture clues of where the letters are hidden will be posted across the City’s social media accounts as well as on the City’s official website at fallschurchva.gov, at 1 p.m. that day. Participants will try to determine which park is featured in the picture, search the park for the item from the clue, discover the letter that correlates with the image on the tracking sheet and finally turn in the sheet at the Cherry Hill Shelter for a reward.
The Quantico Marine Corps Band will visit the Little City on Sunday, July 3, with a performance at Cherry Hill Park (312 Park Ave), beginning at 5 p.m. Guests are encouraged to bring blankets or chairs along, as seating will not be provided.
The Falls Church Village Preservation and Improvement Society (VPIS) will hold its annual Independence Day Remembrance reading in City Hall Chambers (300 Park Ave) at 12 p.m. on Monday, July 4, an event designed to honor the founding documents that have helped build America’s democracy. Free of charge, attendees will hear a discussion of the reasons why the American colonies desired independence from England, as well as readings from a set of foundational documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Fairfax Resolves.
This Falls Church tradition began in 1984, first organized by Lou Olom and Sue Bachtel (former presidents of VPIS) who, as expressed by current VPIS Board Member Keith Thurston, thought it was “important to remember the true work of the founding of this country.”
As to why fireworks will be missing from this year’s celebrations in the Little City, Henry Lane, the City’s Fire Marshall, explained that fireworks used to be “displayed at the school complex on West Broad St” but now, “due to construction of the new high school,” a fireworks show will not be held this year. “Plans are being made,” however, “to have smaller displays in the future.”
Lane stated that, in accordance with current regulation, “fireworks are prohibited to be sold or displayed” in the City unless it is done so by a “professional, licensed and approved company.” The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in a statement, explained that the handling of fireworks must be left “in the hands of the professionals.” Sparklers, which may seem harmless, reach a temperature “nearly six times” that of 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius) — the boiling point of water. With that in mind, Lane says that “there will be many displays around the area.” Citizens will need to check local schedules to find a fireworks display this coming week,” as many locations “will have them on different nights” before and after July 4.
The Loudoun County Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services (PRCS) will host an Independence Day Celebration (with fireworks) on Monday at Franklin Regional Park (17501 Franklin Park Dr, Purcellville, VA), from 5 — 10 p.m. The annual Independence Day Parade, organized by the City of Fairfax, will begin at 10 a.m. at 4100 Chain Bridge Rd on July 4, looping around Old Town Fairfax along Chain Bridge Rd, Main St, University Dr and Armstrong St, featuring nine high school marching bands, balloons and floats. The Town of Herndon will also host Independence Day activities on Monday, featuring live music by Hipshack, bingo and other family-friendly games and a fireworks show starting at 9:30 p.m., launching from the Herndon Centennial Golf Course (909 Ferndale Ave, Herndon).
The City of Alexandria will join in on the celebrations on Saturday, July 9, with a performance by the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra and a fireworks show at 9:30 p.m. There will be a number of accessible vantage points from which to see the show, such as Rivergate Park (2 Montgomery St), Oronoco Bay Park (100 Madison St), Founders Park (351 North Union St) and Waterfront Park (1A Prince St), among others. In observance of Independence Day, City offices and services, including City Hall, the Mary Riley Styles Public Library and the Community Center will be closed on July 4.
The City of Falls Church Fire Marshal reminds those who visit, live, and work in the City that it is unlawful for any person to store, offer for sale, expose for sale, sell at retail, use or explode any fireworks (including sparklers) within the City limits. All fireworks found in the City are subject to seizure. The above offenses are Class One misdemeanors in the City. Fireworks violations may be reported to the City of Falls Church Police Department at 703-241-5053 (TTY 711).
Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks, like devastating burns, fires and even death. According to the NFPA, every Fourth of July, thousands of people (most often children and teens) are injured while using consumer fireworks.