One of my favorite things about fall is the plethora of festivals. Although they seem to come all at once, in a six-week sprint between mid-September and Halloween, these events give us a chance to be outdoors in the beautiful fall weather, learn a little bit more about some aspects of our community and enjoy some good food and entertainment.
Like the growth chart on the kitchen wall, they also serve as markers of our children’s development. Wasn’t it just yesterday you were pushing him in a stroller or holding his hand tightly while he pulled you from one booth to another? Now he’s confidently running around on his own, taking photos and sending them to his friends or posting them on social media.
One of our favorite events is the Dulles Day Plane Pull and Festival, which benefits Virginia Special Olympics. The location is unique – when else do you get to walk on an actual runway or taxiway at a major international airport? And jumbo jets are landing and taking off literally only a few hundred feet away.
You can watch teams of muscular (and some not-so muscular) men and women pulling a 737 – yes, pulling it by a rope, like a tug of war. You can take a joy ride in one of Dulles’ trademark mobile lounges for a spectacular view of all the airplanes. You can wander among historic military and passenger aircraft arrayed on the runway, and even explore inside a few of them.
For the airplane and history enthusiast, like my son, now 13, it’s a day he looks forward to every year. And watching him go off to explore the planes and talk intelligently about them makes me proud – but also makes me reminisce about the days when I would tell him about what he was looking at, and he would listen.
At this year’s Plane Pull, for the third year, participants also could stop by Washington FAMILY’s booth (in the kids zone) and help their children make paper airplanes (we provided the materials and instructions) – and then see how well they fly. Kids drag their moms and dads over to our table, choose their plane (girls usually go for pink; boys for blue, stereotypically), and then get mom or dad to help them fold the paper just right.
Then they have to account for the wind (which can be tricky at the airport) and fly their plane into the target. It’s a lesson in aerodynamics and a chance for a little parent-child bonding. Even the adults sometimes get in on the fun.
We’ll do it again at another of our favorite events, the Manassas Fall Jubilee, on Saturday, Oct. 1, and we’re also planning to be at the Marine Corps Marathon Kids Fun Run on Saturday, Oct. 29. And our annual Private School Fair this year will be Sunday, Oct. 9, at Kid’s Choice Sports Center in Woodbridge.
Participating in these kinds of events is important to us because they support the community and give us a chance to connect with our readers. And the 13-year-old isn’t yet too cool to help the younger ones make paper airplanes, so we get a little father-son bonding time, too.
We hope you’ll find time in your busy fall schedule to come out to at least one of these events and meet our family. We’d love to meet yours!
Chief Operating Officer
Northern Virginia Media Services