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FireworksFluvanna’s Fourth of July festivities have come a long way in the last sixty years.  When local realtor Adele Schaefer moved to Fluvanna in 1950 from Ridgewood, New Jersey, her father was disappointed in the rural area’s lack of celebratory activities.

“Ridgewood celebrated the Fourth of July in a major, major big way,” said Schaefer.  “When we got down here to our farm in Bybee, the Fourth of July was practically nonexistent.  There was nothing.  The only thing – if they did anything – was to go fishing.”

Schaefer’s father, who loves firecrackes and fireworks and always had an American flag flying, decided that his family day wouldn’t pass without being appropriately celebrated.

“We had a big GMC truck that he had moved us down in from New Jersey and he had also a long time ago purchased a box of navy signal flags, so we draped the navy signal flags all around this big truck and my mother took a sheet and we painted the words ‘freedom through vigilance’ on it and tried it on the back of the truck. And we three children – 9, 7 and 6 – were in the bed of the truck and we went all over the dirt and gravel roads blowing our horns and yelling ‘Happy Fourth of July!’  Everybody knew we were the crazy northerners.”
To this day, Schaefer treasures the memory with a chuckle.

“We had a great time doing it,” she said with a laugh.  For many years afterwards, Schaefer’s father indulged in pyrotechnics for the Fourth.

Nowadays, there are plenty of things to do in Fluvanna and surrounding areas to mark the day with its proper fanfare.  From carnivals and parades to formal government ceremonies – there truly is something for everyone as the nation celebrates its 236th birthday.

Fluvanna Fun Days

From July 4th to July 7th, Fluvanna County Parks and Recreation  [FCPR] will be hosting Fluvanna Fun days at Pleasant Grove, off of Rt. 53.
“It’s family fun entertainment,” said FCPR director of special events and promotions, Aaron Spitzer.  “It’s a way for families to come out and have a good time without having to travel long distances.”

Admission is free, but rides and games cost money.  On July 4, for just $18, you can get a wristband that will get you on any ride from 2 to 8 p.m.  A young, local band called Beyond the Soul will also be playing on July 4 from 5:30 until 8:30 p.m.  Pack a picnic, or enjoy some typical carnival fare, and you have yourself a fun Fourth.

On the last day of the carnival, July 7, local musicians Gary Osteen and Beth Brookman, who play what Spitzer describes as “Christian Country Rock,” will play from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.  However, unlike in years past, there will be no fireworks at Fluvanna Fun Days this year because of county budget cuts.

Lake Monticello July 4 celebration

Lake Monticello’s biggest event of the year will begin with a parade of bikes, trikes, wagons and antique vehicles on Tuesday, July 3 at 6:30 p.m.  For the first time in a while, the motorized vehicles in the parade will circle all the way around the Lake on Jefferson Drive.  The parade will be followed by music in the backyard between the clubhouse and the pool.

“We’re going to have a wonderful time,” said Fourth of July event coordinator John Platt. “ There’s going to be something for everybody. I think of it as a hometown type of event.”

July 4 will begin with the 11th annual Lake Monticello Spirit Run.  Other traditional Lake Monticello Fourth of July events will continue to anchor the weekend, including swim across the lake, a horseshoe tournament at Ashlawn Courts, patriotic water-skiers and the sand sculpture competition on the main beach.

This year’s Fourth of July celebration will be more traditional than in the last several years, with the only new activities being a putting contest for kids 12 and under at 10 a.m. at the Golf Pro Shop and backyard games in the morning at the clubhouse.

“Backyard games are the types of games many of us grew up with playing – sack races, different types of races, crafts, face painting,” said Platt.  “There’s no cost to any of these games, and they all win some little prize.”

Fireworks will begin at dusk.

The big finale is going to be the fireworks over the lake at 9:15 p.m.  A lot of people will be at the main beach, out in their boats.  The very fortunate can sit in their yards and watch it.“

Scottsville’s Fourth

Every year the small town of Scottsville, just over the Fluvanna border in  Albemarle County, hosts a Fourth of July parade worthy of literature.  Floats with local beauty pageant winners, softball teams, and political candidates glide down Main Street throwing candy to children, while fire trucks waving American flags blare horns and flash their lights.

At 3 p.m. at the Victory Hall Theater in downtown Scottsville, The Lazy Lightning Blues Band will be performing with special guest Robert Bonacolta, who was Willie Nelson and Arlo Guthrie’s drummer.  Tickets at $12.  At 7 p.m., there will be a free concert by the James River Cut-Ups in Dorrier Park.  Dorrier Park will also be home to bounce houses and amusement trailers for kids, and a fireworks display at 9:15 p.m.

Presidential history

Living in Fluvanna County, it’s hard to ignore the fact that two of our founding fathers – Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe – once lived just a few miles away.  What would Independence Day be if we didn’t take the time to honor those who created our very country?

Monticello hosts one of the area’s most popular Fourth of July events, an outdoor naturalization ceremony on the West Lawn.  Since 1963, more than 3,000 people from every corner of the globe have taken the oath of citizenship at the annual Monticello Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony.  Samantha Leonard, Australian-native and director of Fluvanna’s Camp Friendship, will be sworn in during this year’s ceremony, which will feature remarks from Olympic champion Nadia Comaneci.  Admission is free and events start at 9 a.m., but plan to arrive at least an hour in advance to allow time for parking.

Ash Lawn-Highland, James Monroe’s home, will highlight what 19th century plantation living was like in our country’s early years.  Craft demonstrations and colonial games will be available for children, and everyone is invited to bring a picnic and lunch on the lawn.  Tickets are $5 per person with the purchase of general admission.