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Let the Sparks Fly

A patriotic display of fireworks at the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center.

A patriotic display of fireworks at the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center.

So. It’s July 4, 2013. Independence Day. A federal holiday celebrating our freedom from Great Britain. The National Day of the United States.

And you have nothing planned.

Your children have dreams of fireworks in their head, your neighbors’ homes are festooned with patriotic flair, and your friends already have their coolers packed and lawn chairs ready for their memorable 4th of July celebration.

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The Fairfax Lions Club drives an eye-catching caravan during the City of Fairfax 2012 Independence Day parade.

It’s not too late for you to have a fun-filled 4th of July too. We’ve compiled a list of the best local events, close to your home and mostly free!

City of Fairfax

Day-long Independence Day events include a parade, fireworks, history, firefighters and more.

*For additional information on Independence Day activities, call 703-385-7858 or visit the city’s web site at www.fairfaxva.gov.

Rich with Revolutionary and Civil War history, the City of Fairfax has always made the Founding Fathers proud with a day of family-friendly, old-fashioned events capped by an explosion of fireworks that draws more than 15,000 people to Fairfax High School’s stadium each year.

Many families have made the celebration an annual tradition for generations.

“We come back to the event every year to dance, eat snowballs and get water-soaked,” said Jennifer Loeb. Loeb and her sister, Kerry Petrauskas, grew up in the City of Fairfax and travel from Bristow every year to celebrate the city’s Independence Day events with their family.

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A giant caterpillar makes its way down Main Street during the City of Fairfax Independence Day parade.

“Our parents still live here, and we all get together for this event. What could be more American and fun than this," Loeb said.

City of Fairfax Mayor Scott Silverthorne said the City of Fairfax goes the extra mile to make the fireworks finale a spectacular event. “It gets better every year,” Silverthorne said.

Following is a detailed list of events for the City of Fairfax Independence Day celebration:

*Independence Day Parade—10 a.m. at 4100 Chain Bridge Road, rain or shine.

Featuring marching bands, inflatable balloons, dancers, horses and clowns, the 47th annual Independence Day parade is colorful and entertaining. The parade loops around downtown Fairfax, along Chain Bridge Road, Main Street, University Drive and Armstrong Street. This year, eight high school marching bands from as far west as Nebraska and Minnesota join with the city's own Fairfax High School Marching Rebels. This year’s grand marshal is the Honorable Quin S. Elson, a longtime community activist and Fairfax Police Youth Club (FPYC) volunteer. Elson is being recognized for his dedication and commitment to the community.

*“You Will Get Wet!” Old Fashioned Fireman’s Day—12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Fire Station 3, 4081 University Drive.

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A City of Fairfax firefighter sprints to lay down a fire hose during the timed "Lay-a-Line" competition during the City of Fairfax’s annual Old-Fashioned Fireman’s Day event on July 4, 2012.

After the parade, watch area fire companies compete in this one-of-a-kind event—a favorite among locals—which includes the Battle of the Barrel and Lay-a-Line competition. During Lay-a-Line, a timed competition that simulates an emergency response to fire, fire engines race down University Drive, firefighters jump out of their trucks, lay hose lines and try to knock down targets with their water hoses—all in under 30 seconds. Battle of the Barrel is a reverse tug of war, in which an empty beer keg is suspended 12 feet in the air. Members utilize a 2 1/2-foot hose line to push the barrel to the opponent’s side. Spectators are "warned" that they will get wet, and—on a typical sweltering July 4th—the warning is a crowd-pleaser. Also at the event are plenty of food, beverages and games.

*Evening Show and Fireworks—7 p.m. at Fairfax High School, 3501 Rebel Run.

As the sun sets, enjoy music and dancing before the fireworks. The show features the City of Fairfax Band, and the popular cover band, GrooveLine, which plays favorites from the 1950s to today’s current hits. A spectacular fireworks display will follow with a finale performance by GrooveLine until 10:30 pm. The rain date for the fireworks only is July 5. Items that may puncture the synthetic turf, smoking, alcohol and animals (except service animals) are not permitted on the football field.

*Historic Open Houses—Several historic properties will be open to the public on July 4, including the Fairfax Museum and Visitors Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 10209 Main Street and the Ratcliffe-Allison House, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., 10386 Main Street.

Parking and Shuttle Information:

*Shuttle bus service for the parade runs from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. from George Mason University, Woodson High School and Fairfax United Methodist Church. Shuttles will return spectators to these locations after the parade.

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Sisters Jennifer Loeb and Kerry Petrauskas dance to “Cotton-Eyed Joe” during the City of Fairfax’s annual Old-Fashioned Fireman’s Day event on July 4, 2012.

*For the evening show and fireworks, public parking is available at Fairfax High School. Use shuttle buses available from 6 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. at Woodson High School, 9525 Main Street, to Fairfax High School. Shuttles will return spectators to Woodson High School after the fireworks until 11 p.m. On July 5th, rain date for fireworks only, shuttles are available from 7 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. at Woodson High School. Shuttles will return spectators to Woodson High School after the fireworks until 10:30 p.m. Handicapped parking is available at Fairfax High School. Event sponsors include Fair City Mall and 97.1 WASH-FM.

Lorton

Red, White and Blue Light Up the Sky with fireworks at the Workhouse Arts Center Saturday, July 6 at 7 p.m., 9601 Ox Road.

*For more information on performances, exhibitions, events and camps, visit www.workhousearts.org.

The Workhouse Arts Center will celebrate Independence Day with live music, a patriotic exhibition and a fireworks show on Saturday, July 6. Beginning at 7 p.m., enjoy a free Mount Vernon Nights concert, featuring the funky bluegrass style of Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen. Afterwards, swing with the City of Fairfax Band Swing Ensemble in the Rizer Pavilion at 8 p.m. Throughout the evening, stop by the latest exhibition, 360 Degrees of Post-Traumatic Stress, and see works created by soldiers transitioning to civilian life. Bring kids, pals, blankets and lawn chairs to an evening that captures the patriotic spirit of this country.

“We’re looking forward to an exciting evening of music and fun for the whole family on July 6, and we are grateful to our wonderful sponsors for providing a fireworks display again this year,” said Joseph Wallen, director of performing arts at the Workhouse Arts Center. Fireworks at the Workhouse is sponsored by EnviroSolutions, Inc., 95 Express Lanes, Silver Diner restaurant and Sentara Healthcare.

Fairfax County Parks

Lake Fairfax Fireworks Spectacular—Lake Fairfax, 1400 Lake Fairfax Drive at 9:15 p.m. Park opens at 7 a.m.; The Water Mine opens at 10 a.m.

*For more information, go to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/lakefairfax/ or call 703- 471-5415.

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The Fairfax County Water Mine Swimmin’ Hole, located at Lake Fairfax Fairfax Park, is a top Fourth of July attraction for families.

Lake Fairfax Park features an 18-acre lake and the family-friendly Water Mine, an outdoor swimming pool with water slides and a lazy river. The 476-acre park also features seasonal fishing, campgrounds, picnic areas, trails, party areas, a carousel and playground. On July 4, park grounds open at 7 a.m., and admission is free, so bring your family for a full day of fun. The Water Mine water park will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., but usually hits capacity very early, so plan accordingly. There will be vendors near the park’s main office offering a variety of foods and dessert treats. The carousel and marina will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is also a puppet show from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. near the carousel. Parking attendants will be directing traffic throughout the park. The fireworks show will begin at approximately 9:15 p.m. The fireworks are shot off over the lake so the view can be seen from almost any location in the park. The campgrounds are available for anyone wishing to stay overnight. Reservations are highly recommended and will be accepted as long as space is available.