Celebrating July Fourth in Fairfax, Virginia

© Mark Ormesher

Fairfax, Virginia, has put on their annual Independence Day celebration since 1967. The festivities are book-ended by a charming parade in the morning and fireworks in the evening. Some of its special activities include a fireman's competition, a superhero fest, and one of the largest parades in northern Virginia.

Fairfax Independence Day Parade

The parade runs rain or shine and features marching bands, civic floats, large inflatable parade balloons, Shriners' little cars and big motorcycles, old fire engines, horses, clowns, and gymnasts. The parade runs every year from around 10 a.m. to noon in the Fairfax Historic District. 

Where to Go

The parade starts at 4100 Chain Bridge Road, then loops around downtown Fairfax, along Chain Bridge Road, Main Street, University Drive, and Armstrong Street. There are parking spaces at George Maso University, Woodson High School, and Fairfax United Methodist Church—all of which are serviced by a free shuttle bus that takes you closer to the parade route.

Old-Fashioned Fireman's Day

The Fairfax Fire Department hosts its Old-Fashioned Fireman's Day at Fire House 3 on 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. Activities in 2018 start at 12:30 p.m.

Fireworks and Musical Entertainment

As the sun sets, enjoy on-stage musical entertainment and dancing during the evening show starting at Fairfax High School and culminating in the 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 5:30 p.m. 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 Fairfax High School 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 Fourth Festivities Nearby

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.