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Fireworks Are Back! Sunday in F.C.

Fireworks are making a dazzling comeback as a part of the City of Falls Church’s Independence Day Celebration, and local residents are expressing their excitement for their return. 

For the first time since the pandemic, the Little City is bringing back the fireworks show on Sunday, July 2 at 7:00 p.m. on the lawn of the Meridian High School stadium.

“A lot of individuals have come to me and said ‘Wow, we’re excited to have it back,’” said Daniel Schlitt, the city’s director of recreation and parks. “While a lot of things are exactly the same as they have been in the past, there’s going to be some major changes that’ll give us a good idea moving forward.” 

The fireworks show has not taken place since 2019. 2020 and 2021 celebrations did not have a fireworks display due to Covid-19 precautions, and there were no fireworks in 2022 due to the construction of the new Meridian High School. Schlitt said his team met with the city’s fire marshall to “determine whether we could shoot any kind of fireworks on site.” 

“After determining that we could continue to hold some kind of a firework show, we started the process of coming up with the funding,” Schlitt said. Funding for the fireworks show comes from the City of Falls Church and its annual operating budget. 

To ensure that this year’s fireworks display follows typical safety guidelines, Schlitt said “professionally-trained” pyrotechnicians were hired to set off the fireworks. The sheriff’s office and other emergency management personnel will also be on site to help people.

“Safety’s always a must, and so you always check the boxes on all the different areas of safety,” Schlitt said. 

As for why the Independence Day Celebration is being held on Sunday, July 2 rather than the typical July 4 holiday, Schlitt said that due to the pandemic, smaller pyrotechnician companies able to shoot the fireworks “didn’t make it through Covid.” That left larger, “more experienced” companies to fill that role, which Schlitt said was difficult due to them being “already booked” for other local July 4 events.

After four years, the city’s firework show is coming back for the annual Independence Day Celebration, much to the excitement of local residents. (Photo: Daniel Schlitt)

“The only opportunity we had was to pick an alternative date,” Schlitt said. “Our preference would have been to shoot on the actual July 4, but we could not find a vendor that was willing to do it on that day.” 

A big difference with the return of the display is that the city has been “restricted” down to the amount of fireworks let off, as well as how high they would be shot in the air. Schlitt said his team “reduced down” to a smaller capability to get the fireworks up in the air “for a greater viewing.” 

“Now that the new school is in place, it also sits on some of the old viewing areas,” Schlitt said. “We’re trying to reset some of those good viewing areas.” 

Schlitt said the “best place” to view the fireworks this year would be the stadium turf field at Meridian High School, also noting that the Virginia Tech parking lot may have an “obstructed view” due to where the new Meridian building was constructed. 

Reactions to the return of the fireworks have been mostly positive, as locals have taken to social media to express their excitement. On the Live Local Falls Church Facebook group, people commented on a post by the News-Press asking for locals reactions. 

“It brings everyone together,” Facebook commentor Linda Hart said. “It finalizes a great ending to a day-long celebration with family and friends.” 

“Like Memorial Day and so many other events, [the fireworks show] is one of the things that makes this community special,” Facebook commentor Dave Crance said. “Whether watching from down on the field or on top of the metro parking, it was always a great evening for us and the kids.” 

Along with the fireworks show, the city’s celebration will also host live music by Uncle Jesse — a D.C. ‘90s and ‘00s cover band. The Falls Church Village Preservation and Improvement Society will also be hosting their 40th annual Independence Day Readings on July 4 at 12 p.m. at The Falls Church Episcopal (see page 2 for story).

As for how to get to Meridian to see the fireworks, Schlitt said another difference this year is that there will be no parking site “whatsoever,” so he encourages locals to come off of Haycock Road and up to Mustang Alley, which is shut down but has a main walking area to get into the site. He further stated that people are encouraged to “adhere to the rules” when entering or exiting the site. 

“This is something that a lot of people think of when they think of the City of Falls Church,” Schlitt said. “It’d be nice to kind of get back to where we were the last time we shot.”