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Having Fun Along the Potomac

Riverbend, Great Falls Parks offer summer activities.

Riverbend Park, with extensive plant and wildlife resources, will host many activities for all ages and interests this summer.

Riverbend Park, with extensive plant and wildlife resources, will host many activities for all ages and interests this summer. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

— The Potomac River makes up the eastern border of Great Falls, and this summer the two parks located alongside it will be brimming with summer activities over the next few months, as Riverbend Park and Great Falls Park will host a variety of classes, trips and educational sessions.

The Fairfax County Park Authority will be hosting a variety of new camps and programs at Riverbend Park, as well as their historic properties the Grange, Dranesville Tavern and the Forestville Schoolhouse.

"This summer is kind of an all-time high for us, there’s a lot going on and I think the public will really like what we have to offer," said Ethan Kuhnhenn, recreation programs manager at Riverbend. "We’re offering over 30 camps for kids ages 3 to 15. This gives us a chance to do some really cool programs, because we don’t have that much indoor space at Riverbend."

A Festive Fourth of July

Celebrate Great Falls will host its annual Fourth of July Hometown Celebration, starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday, July 4. The Great Falls Freedom Memorial will be the site of the annual 5K Walk/Run, and the annual Little Patriot Parade at 9 a.m. at the Village Centre. Babies and toddlers up to age 5 are invited to don patriotic attire and walk around the Village Green.

The main parade, which will make a loop around the village, will start at 10 a.m. and feature a variety of classic cars, community floats and other organizations.

The village green will host games and other activities until 12:30, and then the annual fireworks and other activities will begin at Turner Farm at 6 p.m.

More information can be found at www.celebrategrea....

The park authority will offer programs in new astronomy, geology, digital art, photography, basket weaving and more, for children and adults.

"We’ll also have the usual boating, fishing and fitness programs we’ve been running for the past few years," Kuhnhenn said. "We’ve also been blessed with the opportunity to get new canoes, the Friends of Riverbend Park secured us a grant for 10 or 12 new canoes, so we’ll be running a lot of new canoeing programs."

Riverbend also offers kayak and Jon boat activities and most boating activities will take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Kayaking and hiking fitness classes are also offered.

Great Falls Park is 800 acres along the Potomac River, which welcomes almost 500,000 people per year. The plants and animals that reside in the park represent interests for almost every kind of outdoor enthusiast.

"The rocky outcroppings see some really unique formations of rock and vegetation that exist just downstream of the falls," said Brent O’Neill of Great Falls Park. "Down through the Potomac Gorge we have all these unique environments that are considered globally rare."

Popular activities at Great Falls Park include wildflower, bird watching and hiking. Interns and volunteers will be helping with several new programs, including geology and photography programs.

"We have a junior ranger program for anyone with young kids in the family, ages 5 to 10... kids can come out and work on a booklet and earn a Junior Ranger badge," O’Neill said.