Since 1967, Fairfax, Virginia, has been celebrating the Independence of the United States from British dominion with an annual parade in the morning followed by fireworks at night. In its more than 50 years in operation, this parade is one of, if not, the largest in northern Virginia.
Fairfax hosts one of the many family-friendly Independence Day events in the capital region. In case of rain, the fireworks are usually the only event that will be postponed.
More About the Parade
The parade runs rain or shine and usually has all the requisite ingredients for a grand parade: marching bands, civic floats, large inflatable parade balloons, Shriners' little cars and big motorcycles, old fire engines, horses, clowns, and gymnasts.
The parade usually runs every year from 10 a.m. to noon in the Fairfax Historic District. In the hours leading up to and after the parade, buses usually get people to the parade from three major sites that can accommodate car parking: George Maso University, Woodson High School, and Fairfax United Methodist Church.
The parade start is at 4100 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, then loops around downtown Fairfax, along Chain Bridge Road, Main Street, University Drive, and Armstrong Street.
Old-Fashioned Fireman's Day
The City of Fairfax Fire Department hosts its Old-Fashioned Fireman's Day at Fire House 3 on the University Drive following the Independence Day Parade.
Local firehouses send their crews to participate in watery competitions with crowd participation. The afternoon at the firehouse includes games, musical entertainment, and a giant barbecue party.
Fireworks and Musical Entertainment
As the sun sets, you can enjoy on-stage musical entertainment and dancing during the evening show starting at Fairfax High School, which is followed by a fireworks display.
There are children's activities, such as inflatables, face painting, and balloon artists. Public parking is not available at Fairfax High School. Shuttle buses are usually available from 6 to 11 p.m. at Woodson High School.
Items that may puncture the synthetic turf of the football field, as well as smoking, alcohol, and pets (except service animals), are not permitted on the field.
History of the Parade and Fireworks
In 1967, the parade was organized by the Delta Alpha Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority. In the early, smaller-parade days, the Independence Day festivities could be handled by volunteers, assisted by the City's Public Information Office, American Legion Post 177, and VFW Blue and Gray Post 8469. During the 1980s, the City's Parks and Recreation Department began overseeing the festivities. However, the number of parade's entrants, sponsors, and community groups grew, rendering the all-volunteer nature of the parade unfeasible. In 1990, the Independence Day celebration was incorporated as a non-for-profit organization. The organization now receives city funding and staffing assistance from Parks and Recreation.
In its history, the parade has featured flyovers by the Flying Circus Aerodrome, and in 1996 a hot air balloon race, sponsored by radio station WXTR-104 FM.
Other July 4th Festivities
There are a number of other Fourth of July fireworks in the Washington, D.C. area. In addition, you can find many community parades in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia.