When Fairlingtonians gathered at the firehouse and along Abingdon Street for the annual Fourth of July parade, they were continuing a long tradition of neighborhood celebrations and community activities.
Fairlington’s first residents (1943 – 1945) had to be part of the World War II effort in order to rent their homes. Coming from all over the country to support the war effort, they created an “…active community… [concerned with]… schools… libraries and… securing general government services,” remembered Richard Gabel, who also noted that “… a lack of air conditioning meant that people spent their evenings during summer months outdoors, communicating and socializing with their neighbors.”*
In Fairlington’s years as a rental community (1947 – 1972), groups and events multiplied. Property manager, Walter Hodges, encouraged arts and crafts shows, Fourth of July parades, Memorial Day celebrations and cookouts, and a community newspaper, The Fairlingtonian. A community theater group, The Fairlington Players, was established in 1947 and a host of other activities reflected the interests of residents: “Fairlington Travelers, the Fairlington Women’s Club, annual boat trips down the Potomac, Halloween parties, a bowling league, the famous Mrs. Fairlington Beauty Contest… Christmas tree bonfires, Kiwanis, Red Cross, League of Women Voters, American Association of University Women, Fairlington Civic Association, paper drives, church group meetings, and a modern dance troupe. For the children, there were Campfire Girls, Brownies, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Cub Scouts.”*
As a condominium community, Fairlingtonians have continued to weave a rich fabric of neighborhood life. Informal village, courtyard, and pool parties have long been common. Pot luck and grill dinners, winter storm shoveling and cocoa parties, springtime planting events, and Bloody Mary contests all continue to bring neighbors together.
Original owner, Bill Miller, noted that his village (Arbor) “…holds two pool parties every summer. We also have Friday night wine and cheese get-togethers by the pool… as well as a couple of movie nights. I’ve taken walks on cold winter nights… and have noticed groups of neighbors holding parties around fire pits in their communal front lawns.”
In Fairlington Villages, the condominium board aims to have one event each month and to appeal to all types of community interests: Annual visits from Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, and the Halloween pizza party are all geared to younger residents. Community yard sales, SuperBowl™ viewings, as well as wine and cheese, tennis, summer kick-off, volunteer, and holiday parties have broad appeal; and the annual Pet Happy Hour brings four-legged residents together with their owners of all ages.
Across the community, the Fairlington Diners and Fairlington Book Group bring residents together with these interests in common. In recent years, the Fairlington Citizens Association and the Fairlington Historical Society have jointly hosted walking tours of neighborhood history and notable trees and are currently working together on the community’s 75th anniversary celebration (October 20, 2018).
Fairlingtonians – past and present – appreciate the unique neighborhood we all share. We seem never to run out of ideas for celebrating that and enjoying the company of our neighbors.
- *Quotations from Catherine D Fellows, Fairlington at Fifty. The Fairlington Historical Society, 2012.