July 4th in Great Falls!

Summer is my favorite season and July 4th is my favorite holiday! I love all the fun that comes with this day. Participation in the Great Falls celebration has become a tradition for us: the July 4th 5k Fun Run, followed by the parade, followed later in the evening by the fireworks at Turner Farm. Check out the video here!

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For the last 4 years, Wiehan and I have woken up early and jogged over to the start of the 5k Fun Run at the Freedom Memorial by Great Falls Public Library. Sometimes my dad joins, sometimes my brother and his wife and their pup join, and last year, Wiehan’s parents were in town and also had the chance to join the fun. We had some rain in 2015 and 2016. Last year and this year were sunny, hot and humid. Put on by the Great Falls Trail Blazers, who create and maintain scenic trails in the community, the annual July 4th 5K Fun Run draws a crowd of all ages, this year with 200+ participants. Beginning usually with a signal from a guy dressed up in 1700s colonial attire, the route heads eastbound, down Georgetown Pike past the Great Falls Grange, into Innsbruck Lane, where a bumpy path of about a quarter mile has been freshly mowed through a private open field, winding along abandoned barns. Coming out from the other side of the field, runners head further down Innsbruck, down a short, fast hill, then up the other side, cutting through a private driveway to a trail positioned between a fence and a tree line, down and around to another section that runs along Arnon Chapel Lane. This portion of the trail runs along a fence that lines the property of Stoneridge Horse Farm. We turn left onto Walker Road, and head through the Great Falls Elementary School property through which we run halfway along the school's unofficial track, down a grassy hill, over a baseball diamond. Then we enter into the woods, onto the Lucy Hanes Trail, a footpath so narrow that it becomes virtually impossible to pass competitors as we make our way to the finish line. Since it's a fun run, there isn't an official time clock or awards, except to the first place finisher. Wiehan came in first place three years in a row, but coming directly from 4 days of cycling on the GAP and C&O Canal, he didn't have the legs to take on his rival, and wound up in second place. For the last two years, I've run alongside my dad, which is a pretty amazing experience to be able to share. He sure is fit and active, an inspiration to us all!

After the race, we head home to clean up and then walk over to the Great Falls Village Center to watch the parade, with ice lattes from Katie's Coffee House in hand. It's such a great display of community spirit and creativity. At the same time, a mini carnival fills the Village Green, with about 7 different moon bounces, a strongman game, a snow cone machine, and more! Awards are given to the best parade floats. Usually we'd go home and braai (South African term for barbecue), but with unbearable heat and humidity, we spent the afternoon this year relaxing indoors, and then drove out to Turner Farm to finish off the day with the fireworks show at sunset.

- Christin

And tell us! How do you and your family like to celebrate summer holidays?