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Great Food, Great Day

Residents celebrate Great Falls Day and help to raise money for a new fire station.

Despite predictions of rain, Mother Nature was in full cooperation at this year's Great Falls Day celebration, which was held on Saturday, May 6 at the Great Falls Grange.

"I was in charge of the weather today," joked Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Gerald Connelly.

The annual community festival featured food, family activities, a native plant sale, local artist displays, musical performances and historical exhibits – including a classroom re-enactment in the Old Schoolhouse. Mary Frances McKinley and daughter Holly Lynne McKinley have organized the Old Schoolhouse re-enactment every year since Holly Lynne first pitched the idea to the Great Falls Historical Society in 1996.

"I had done a re-enactment at C&O Canal, and I went to Langley High School, so I drive this road everyday, and I just started wondering if they had ever done a re-enactment here," said McKinley, who graduated from Langley in 1998.

She started the re-enactment as a silver project for her Girl Scout troop, and it has since become both a Great Falls Day tradition and a local Girl Scout troop tradition.

"Every troop has to add something," said McKinley. "This year's group added two things — penmanship and a fire drill."

McKinley said that it makes her happy to see how much bigger Great Falls Day becomes with every passing year.

"When this started it was only four hours, and now it's an entire day," she said.

LOCAL COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS such as Great Falls Trailblazers, Friends of Great Falls Fireworks and McLean and Great Falls Celebrate Virginia, were on hand, but this year's event had one particular goal at its forefront, to raise funds to build a new fire station.

"We need to get them a new building," said Calvin Follin, president of the Great Falls Historical Society, which sponsors Great Falls Day in conjunction with the Fairfax County Park Authority. "Every proceed today goes toward that."

Dranesville District Supervisor Joan DuBois reminded citizens that there will be a safety bond referendum this fall which will include funds for a new fire station in Great Falls.

"I encourage all of you to vote for that bond referendum," said DuBois.

Steve Ruzila, Chief of the Great Falls Fire Department, invited residents to stop by the firehouse to see an artist's rendering of the future station.

"It's going to look like an old farmhouse with a barn and a silo, just like everything else used to look around here," said Ruzila.