Manassas Journal Messenger | M. Park July 4 event fills up early

SLIDESHOW  Parades, people and fireworks

Kim Wheeler kicked off her shoes and stood barefoot in the grass in some shade at Signal Hill Park on Monday while she waited for her children to bring camp chairs and blankets from the car.

By happenstance Wheeler, her husband Kevin and their three children Tiara, Jasmyne and Kevin Jr., got to the park in Manassas Park early.

They were already out for the day and arrived at the park around 6 p.m. for a fireworks show that started at 9:20.

The park was filling quickly. Children tossed balls and flying discs around the terraced field that formed an amphitheater perfect for viewing fireworks.

“We didn’t know exactly where we were going to go, but we decided to come to Manassas Park to see the fireworks,” said Kevin Wheeler, of Woodbridge. “It’s a nice park.”

Catherine Moretta of the Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation said 20,000 people show up for the fireworks on a good night.

Last year it rained, so attendance was down a little.

The Wheelers got to the park late by some standards, Moretta said.

Some people make a day of it.

“People have been out here since 7:15 this morning,” she said.

The fireworks show at Signal Hill Park draws people from around the area, Moretta said.

She said she gets calls from all of the surrounding counties in the weeks leading up to the Fourth of July.

“It’s a great time — good family fun,” she said.

Ingrid Farrell came with a group of about 20 family members and friends.

They got to the park about noon and found a prime spot for a picnic in the shade beneath a little grove of tress.

They’ve been coming since the city started having the fireworks at the park.

“It gets better every year,” the 37-year-old Woodbridge woman said.

The idea that 20,000 people would show up didn’t surprise Farrell and the other picnickers.

Tom DeBolt, president of the Signal Hill Lions Club said this year was going to be packed because of the weather.

“It’s perfect today weather-wise. The fireworks will look good tonight,” said DeBolt, who is also the superintendent of public schools in Manassas Park.

DeBolt said the Lions would make about $2,000 for the night at their stand selling hot dogs, burgers, chips, sodas and their speciality — kielbasa with peppers and onions.

“We can pour it back into the community in hearing and sight cases,” DeBolt said.

Marilee and David Davis brought their sons Kellen, 3, and Tucker, 6, from Dale City to see the fireworks.

Tucker was excited. He set off fireworks at home Sunday night, but thought the ones at the park would be better at the park

“I think it will go up into the sky and go boom,” he said.

The Manassas Park fireworks show, which has been around for about 30 years, moved from Costello Park to Signal Hill Park about five years ago, DeBolt said.

Tabitha and Paul Johnson and Carolyn Hartman have been watching the fireworks since they were in Costello Park.

“We love them, absolutely,” Tabitha Johnson said.

Paul Johnson said they would get a two-for-one deal at park Monday night.

They would be able to see the Manassas fireworks as well.

“We’ve been thinking about going over there, but we like it over here,” Hartman said.

Over in Manassas, the same thing was going on except the prime seats were on the lawn of the Manassas Museum.

The lawn started to fill up early, but that didn’t stop people from enjoying music, ice cream and funnel cake behind the train station across the street from the museum.

Jeanee Ziece and her husband Fred, 67, said they were surprised at the size of the fireworks display when they came to the show in Manassas a couple of years ago.

“I didn’t think it would be that big,”said the 67-year-old Fred Ziece.

The Zieces prefer Old Town Manassas’ show to the one in Washington, D.C.

The intimate setting is better and the crowds are too.

Don and Joyce Campbell came to Manassas with their children Leslie, 20, and Doug, 16.

This year was their first and they had high hopes for the show.

“We heard it was excellent. We heard it was going to be one of the biggest in Northern Virginia,” Don Campbell said.

The Campbells brought a picnic to pass the time.

Leslie and Doug Campbell played a card game called Palace while their parents shared a crossword puzzle to pass the time until the show started.

SLIDESHOW  Parades, people and fireworks

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