Sunday Evening Concert on the Green: The Great Falls Citizens Association plays a large role in maintaining the rural, country-like feel of the community.
Photo by Walt Lawrence
“Vroom, vroom!” go the cars at Katie’s Coffeehouse. I take my son, Luke, there early one morning to look at matching red vintage Lamborghinis, our mouths agape with matching awe. After an iced coffee for me and a chocolate milk for him, we head home; later that afternoon, we take our own vehicles, albeit of the quieter, mountain terrain sort, and bike softly into the woods a little past our own backyard. There are trails extending for miles, taking us to the Potomac River, River Bend Park, and even into the city if we so wished it. My son’s destination: the hot dog and ice cream shop at Great Falls Park, and off we go into the wilderness, where in a greater metropolitan area of over three million, the only creatures we encounter are deer and squirrels, and all the only noise we hear are the choir of summer cicadas cheering—er, chirping—us along.
One of the best things about living in Great Falls is its close proximity to nature. With large yards and gardens, homes can both dominate or disappear into the natural scenery. However, just drive through the two-lane country roads that meander around the neighborhood, and you are guaranteed to pass several horse farms, a few deer, and possibly even a Michelin rated French auberge, Chez Francois.
Families choose to live in Great Falls because it offers a quiet and safe oasis from the hustle and bustle of busy professional lives in Tysons, Washington and beyond. Yes, residents and commuters have to battle the traffic on the Pike every day, but knowing that what awaits them at home is the serenity of the forest life, a street where kids have the freedom to play outside all day, and being at least twenty minutes away from any big box store makes it all worthwhile.
The center of town in Great Falls is called the Village, for goodness sakes! And in spite of all the eager developers and recent construction, Great Falls strives to maintain that village ideal. The long-time residents here strive to keep the memory of Great Falls alive, when it was just a small farming outpost (albeit with a Nike missile base). Just pop into Colvin Run Mill, the old Turner Farm, or the Grange, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Of course, like all of greater Washington, the Great Falls village has grown and evolved, but with events like the Art Walk, Movies on the Green, and celebrations during Halloween, Easter, and Christmas, it has become a gathering spot for a new generation.
The Great Falls Citizens Association plays a large role in maintaining the rural, country-like feel of the community. Its committees and board meet monthly to discuss issues such as schools, zoning and land use, traffic calming, and, of course, keeping the parks that make Great Falls so special healthy and flourishing. Its current efforts include seeking responsible development, restoring stream integrity, reducing traffic on the Pike, and giving residents a stronger voice with the county’s school board.
More than anything, Great Falls represents the merging of the old and the new of the Washington area, both its tension and its harmony. Some people have lived here for more than fifty years, while newcomers are moving in this summer. The greatest attestation of Great Falls’ magnetism to me, however, are the people who grew up here years ago and have moved back with their own spouses and families. In the ever transient world of Washington, the roots of Great Falls grow deep and run strong.
The writer is Co-chair, Great Falls Citizens Association Communications Committee