Both the Heritage Festival in downtown Fredericksburg and the Fourth of July celebration at Ferry Farm attracted huge Independence Day crowds despite occasional showers.

Kids started lining up in the Virginia Railway Express parking lot at 9 a.m. for the Children’s Heritage Day Parade that gave them the opportunity to dress up, and decorate their bikes and scooters for a competition that offered two prizes—donated by Chuck E Cheese—for the best costume and best decorated bike.

Best costume winners were Eli and Julia Heflin, who dressed up as George Washington and Betsy Ross, respectively. The siblings were accompanied by both their parents and grandparents.

Eli, 6, was still working on his costume this morning, wanting to add some gold touches, said his mom Meghan Heflin. Nine-year-old Julia said she enjoyed decorating her bike the most.

The parade was hosted by the Blue Star Mothers to honor the military and to bring the Fourth of July back “to the kids and families,” said Mary Kulesa, first vice president of Blue Star Mothers.

“We couldn’t do it without the children coming. It’s all about the children. It’s not about any one organization. It’s a parade for the children. For them to learn about patriotism, and this is the day to learn about that,” said Teresa Sumners, the organization’s president.

After the parade, people moved on to the Festival on the Streets, which lined Sophia, Charlotte and Hanover streets with booths for local businesses, a classic car display and plenty of children’s activities.

From the Heritage Festival, families could shuttle or drive over to Ferry Farm for tours of George Washington’s boyhood home and living history demonstrations.

Also at Ferry Farm was a live theater area where two actors put on skits involving various historical figures. One skit included an art critic and the artist of the famous “Washington Crossing the Delaware” painting, Emanuel Leutze. The “art critic” pointed out historical inaccuracies of the painting, much to the Leutze character’s displeasure.

Enduring Freedom, Fredericksburg Christian School’s honor band, played patriotic music at Ferry Farm, as attendees sat down and listened for awhile.

The George Washington Foundation’s archaeology team was on hand to field questions from visitors about what it had learned about Ferry Farm’s past and what the members are working on now. The team has been digging at the site since the late 1990s after the foundation acquired the farm in 1996, according to Jessica Burger, manager of marketing, communications and technology for the foundation.

The foundation also hosted its annual flag retirement ceremony, which Stafford Supervisor Gary Snellings, Fredericksburg Vice Mayor William Withers and Rep. Rob Wittman (R–1st) attended.

Wittman said that July 4 was a great opportunity to “reflect upon what is critically important to our nation.”

He went on to say: “Let me leave you with this thought—what makes our nation special should be the things that bind us together as a nation. That idea of inalienable rights—that idea of what we all have as human beings and how we need to honor and respect that in other human begins. That really is what today is all about, it’s the foundation our nation.”

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