Welcome to Herndon, a big city suburb with small town charm.
Herndon's proud heritage includes its origins as a farm community, its proximity to major Civil War battles (although none were fought in the town itself), and, in 1879, its incorporation as a town. More recently, Herndon has become renowned for its easy access to Dulles International Airport (opened in 1962) and as the headquarters home base for some of the nation's most successful high-tech enterprises.
My own Herndon history begins in 1968, when my family moved from Manassas, where we lived when I was born, to Herndon, where I spent my entire childhood. I remember one streetlight in the center of town, and — incredible to believe today — just one McDonalds. I attended Herndon Elementary, Herndon Intermediate (now Herndon Middle) and Herndon High, where my father was chairman of the Art Department. Our family was active in sports, church and civic organizations throughout the town; as a result, my roots here are strong, deep and everlasting.
Today I am raising my own family here in Herndon. The parks and fields where I played as a boy now serve as playgrounds for my two children. Our family calendar is crowded with events, happenings and activities that take place throughout the year here in Herndon — a seasonal abundance of things to do and see, suitable for all ages.
For all of us who call Herndon home, the official kick-off to summer is the Herndon Festival, held each year the first weekend in June. More than 80,000 people from around the region attend this annual celebration of our town, chosen by the readers of Family Magazine as the best festival or celebration for families in Northern Virginia. Just one ride on the carousel, one afternoon spent browsing through the myriad arts and crafts vendors or one evening marveling at the fireworks over the Town Green and it's easy to see why the Herndon Festival draws singles and families, young and old to our Town.
Summertime in Herndon continues with Thursday evening's "Music Under the Stars" and "Friday Night Live" concerts on the Town Green; the Herndon Homegrown Farmer's Market, every Thursday morning in the Historic Downtown area; and participation among neighborhoods and the Herndon Police Department in a "National Night Out" to promote safety in our community.
Autumn in Herndon is greeted in style, with the Annual Labor Day Jazz & Wine Festival, a celebration of food, friends and music held on the Town Green. The Farmer's Market continues on Thursday mornings, with autumn's harvest — pumpkins, apples, root vegetables — moving front and center. The Herndon Homecoming Parade makes its annual trek down Elden Street, complete with floats and marching bands. Veterans Day is observed with solemn reverence at a ceremony at the Town's Veterans Memorial on the Town Green, and the annual 5K Turkey Trot held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving attracts fitness enthusiasts young and old.
The winter holidays have always held a special significance for me and my family. Herndon marks the occasion with an annual tree lighting and sing-along, annual homes tour and Holiday Arts & Crafts Show at the Herndon Community Center. Children delight to meet Santa at the annual Santa's Workshop, also at the Community Center, and we've all enjoyed holiday concerts by the Towne Square Singers.
But perhaps my favorite time of year in Herndon is springtime. Bikers, skaters and runners return to the W&OD trail which runs through downtown Herndon on its way from Alexandria to Purcellville. Runnymede Park, gleaming after its annual spring cleanup, is once again home to the varied wildlife indigenous to our area. People of all cultures turn out for the town's annual Community Day celebration, always held on the first Saturday in May, and communities throughout town participate in Neighborhood Celebration Month, also in May. Kids return to soccer fields, backyard grills are pulled out of storage, and neighbors throughout our town come out of doors and get reacquainted.
My hometown of Herndon truly is a town for all seasons. Of course, anytime of year is the right time to enjoy the town's 10 parks; to work out in the our newly-expanded fitness facility at the Herndon Community Center, slated to open in September; or to spend an afternoon on the links at the Herndon Centennial Golf Course, named one of the "best places to play" by Golf Digest.
Winter or summer, outdoors or in, there is always something going on in Herndon. I'm delighted to welcome you to our community, and I look forward to meeting you at events around town.
Steve J. DeBenedittis