Here’s a save-the-date card for King George County residents—or anyone who loves the sound of bombs bursting in air over a military base on a patriotic holiday.

Naval Support Activity South Potomac, in partnership with the King George County Tourism Advisory Committee, will host a Fourth of July celebration next year as part of the county’s 300th anniversary. The family celebration will be held at Naval Support Facility Dahlgren and will be one of the few times when non-military people are allowed inside the gate.

“This is a rare occasion when everyone can come on the base for the event, all-inclusive,” said Jeron Hayes, public affairs specialist at the base.

Hayes announced the 2020 event during the King George Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, and some in the audience clapped. She, too, could barely contain her excitement.

“I’ve been here for 21 years, and some of my best memories are Fourth of July on the base,” she said.

From 1987 to 2008, the county had a partnership with Naval Support Activity South Potomac and Morale, Welfare and Recreation to provide the celebration. The county paid for the fireworks, and the base offered parking, entertainment and security.

After the economy tanked with the 2007 recession, county officials said they couldn’t approve paying $20,000 for fireworks when people were losing their jobs and homes. The celebration returned in 2011 and 2012 when economic situations improved, then the military said it no longer could support the program.

Having the event in 2020 “will be the centerpiece for the 300th anniversary,” said Saundra Pearson, chairwoman of the tourism committee.

The group has a number of activities planned for the tricentennial, starting with the kickoff event, a Founder’s Day proclamation this November followed by a holiday celebration in December.

In 2020, there will be themed activities almost every month, with events that celebrate education, James Madison’s birthday, homes on the King George garden tour, Memorial Day, county trails and parks, Fourth of July, churches, farms, native American programs and the anniversary of the Battle of Mathias Point. August events will pay homage to the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers with water activities, fishing tournaments and nature tours.

King George County was named for King George I of Great Britain. It was established in 1720 when land was split from Richmond County. Substantial reorganization came in 1776 and 1777, when land was swapped with Stafford and Westmoreland counties to form the current boundaries.

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Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

cdyson@freelancestar.com

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