Proclamation Monday Kicks Off A Year of Special Events
A year-long birthday party to celebrate 75 years of the City of Falls Church as an official independent city under Virginia’s unusual laws on the subject kicked in this week with the unanimous adoption by the F.C. City Council of a proclamation. “The City of Falls Church will celebrate the 75th anniversary of its incorporation as an independent city of the Commonwealth of Virginia on August 16, 2023,” the proclamation begins.
A preliminary calendar of a year’s worth of events, culminating in a “community-wide celebration” next August, was also adopted, which begins with the adoption of the proclamation this week, the annual convocation of the Falls Church City Schools next Tuesday morning (in advance of the beginning of the new school year), and a flag raising event at City Hall on the date of the anniversary on next Wednesday, Aug. 16.
The official logo for the 75th anniversary year will be unveiled at the City’s annual Fall Festival on Sept. 23, and most of the events listed for the coming 12 months as presented by Deputy City Manager Cindy Mester are regularly scheduled ones, such as the New Year’s Eve Watch Night and the Memorial Day Parade, with special anniversary elements added.
Falls Church Launches Year-Long 75th Birthday Celebration
Falls Church was first recognized as a political entity in Virginia by virtue of its being granted “town” status in 1875, which permitted the operation of its own public schools.
Under Virginia law, while residents of unincorporated areas elect just county officials, and pay just county taxes, residents of towns in Virginia vote for both town and county officials, and pay taxes to both the town and the county, and unlike towns, cities like Falls Church are politically independent from counties. They elect their own officials, set their own tax rates, and run their own school systems.
Of the 41 independent cities in the U.S., 38 are in Virginia. Elsewhere in the U.S., only Baltimore, Maryland, St. Louis, Missouri and Carson City, Nevada are independent cities in the same way as the 38, including Falls Church, in Virginia.
The most recent form of independent cities was enshrined in a revised Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia that was overwhelmingly adopted in 1971 that erased many of the controversial segregationist elements of the earlier Constitution adopted in 1902.
The F.C. Council Proclamation adopted this Monday includes an “acknowledgement” that “at times in the past, the institution of slavery, post Civil War segregation, and other factors, have led to diverse voices and perspectives going unheard, today we are dedicated to being a welcoming and inclusive community, a special place in the heart of Northern Virginia,” with “extraordinary civic engagement” as the key to “the City’s long-term success and to preserving a small town character with a deep commitment to progress and inclusivity.”
The proclamation adds that “it is appropriate at this time to recognize the longstanding history of settlement in the Falls Church area, including, but not limited to:
“Indigenous peoples who inhabited the surrounding lands for hundreds of years prior to European colonization, including the Piscataway, Manahoac, Doeg, and Nacotchtank peoples; the first recorded mark of non-native settlement in Falls Church noted on the chimney of a log cabin in 1699; the construction of the original Anglican Falls Church in 1733, replaced by the current structure in 1769, ever-after standing in the center of the community; enslaved, indentured, and free Black people whose businesses, organizations, and relationships built a thriving community that persists in their descendants who continue to live in Falls Church; the incorporation of the Town of Falls Church in Fairfax County with its own public schools in 1875; influxes of immigrants from across the world that have shaped the economic, cultural, and political landscape of Falls Church.”
The proclamation then adds that “the City of Falls Church was incorporated following a 1948 appeal of the Town Council to the Circuit Court for an enumeration of its citizens, and the outcome of adjudication with 5,000 residents resulted in certification of the Town of Falls Church as a City of the Second Class on August 16, 1948.”
(The 1971 revision of the state constitution removed the distinction, by population size, between first and second class independent cities.)
The proclamation adds the following:
“The Falls Church City Public Schools Division was subsequently authorized by the Commonwealth on June 27, 1949, introducing a key component of the community that continues to educate and develop the talents of the youth of the City.
“Following incorporation, the City of Falls Church has risen to regional and national distinction for its dedication to environmental stewardship, high levels of community engagement, successful and diverse business community, and exceptional public school system.”