Grayson Gingery to Mother Nature: Bring it on.
Gingery, a Holy Child seventh-grader, waited with her friends Chanel Ballard and Mary Clare Reim, both Holy Child eighth-graders, in line for the inflatable slide at the Potomac Falls neighborhood Fourth of July celebration last Sunday. None of them were deterred by the giant puddle at the bottom of the slide, filled from a downpour earlier that.
“I’ve been here every year since I was born,” Gingery said. “You come and you do a really cool parade, [then] everybody gets to meet other people, and you have good food.”
ALL THESE TRADITIONS carried on at Potomac falls this year, despite rainstorms that started late Sunday morning and continued on and off through the early afternoon. The neighborhood parade began a half-hour early, beginning before the rainfall but ending with a downpour. Gingery didn’t run for cover when the rain started – “We stand in it on purpose,” she said.
Austin Aubinoe drove his go-kart with his sister Savannah, who rode a bike in previous parades. Before going to camp, the Aubinoe siblings decorated their vehicle. “I like how it’s decorated,” Savannah said. “There’s American flags all over it, and stars.”
Anne Puccini, co-chair of the Potomac Falls Homeowners Association, decided earlier in the day to move the picnic food under a tent – it was out in the open other years. “It’s all working out just fine. It makes it more of an adventure,” she said.
The Cabin John Volunteer Fire Department drove its rescue trucks through both the Potomac Falls and River Falls parades, and joined the Potomac Falls residents for the picnic lunch.
“This is something I look forward to. They usually see us in emergency situations,” said Mark Livingstone, a firefighter at Cabin John.
”We get to show kids that we’re pretty friendly people, and we’re here to give them support in any way we can,” said Jimmy Seavey Jr., the department’s parade coordinator.
But Seavey was attentive to the possibility that road conditions would lead to emergency calls. During the River Falls parade, the department received a call, and several trucks had to break formation and depart to the emergency scene midway through the parade.
AT RIVER FALLS, the parade started on schedule, between cloudbursts. Marchers had to avoid a puddle that engulfed nearly half the parade route. It was no shock to Peter Burnes, Jr., who rode in his Levo Combi wheelchair. “That puddle’s been there for three years,” Burnes said.
Betty Ventry watched the parade with Roxanne and Bob Sweeney, who are moving with their children into the house that Ventry is leaving after 33 years in River Falls. “They remind me of when I was a kid, the nice, small-town atmosphere,” said Ventry, who is moving to Connecticut. “I hate to move.”
Eventually, the River Falls post-parade party was driven indoors by the rain, but swimmers held out as long as they could. Dozens were still in the pool as torrential rain fell. Lifeguard Jessica Milne said, “Usually we’re not happy about the rain, but today it was fun.”
When loud thunderclaps started, the River Falls lifeguard ordered everybody out of the pool. “It was awesome in the water!” one swimmer shouted after coming ashore.