WASHINGTON — Like so many municipalities across the country, the town of Hamilton, Virginia, marked Memorial Day with a parade that honored veterans and those in service.
But between the Scout-led flag ceremony and bagpipe-accompanied commemoration, there was also cause for celebration. After all, Monday was Hamilton Day.
“It’s just celebrating America, small-town style,” said Jessica Miller, who has lived in Hamilton for about four years.
“[In the parade] you see your neighbors, and all the baseball teams are going to ride through, and the fire trucks, fifth graders from the elementary school are coming through … It is like small-town, quintessential,” she said.
With Purcellville just a few miles to the west and Leesburg 10 miles to the east, Hamilton is a quiet, but convenient Loudoun County town made up of about 500 residents. Its mile-long main street has a few businesses — there’s a health food store and a general store, plus a crab shack and a gastropub — but mostly Victorian homes decorated with rocking chairs and friendly smiles line Route 7.
Neighboring communities are teeming with development and battling the inevitable traffic that goes hand-in-hand with growth, but over the years, Hamilton has managed to hold on to its small-town charm.
Carri Michon, a co-organizer of Hamilton Day, said the annual event has occurred for as long as she can remember (she has lived in the area for more than 20 years), and the day celebrates the qualities that make Hamilton unique.
“It’s really for the kids,” she said, adding that this year was the first in a while where Hamilton Day was held on Memorial Day.
Hamilton Day kicks off with a 5K race in the morning, followed by a parade and a party in the park. There’s free ice cream from the Baptist church, farm animals from 4-H, hot dogs sold by the Ruritan club and face painting for the kids.
“Seeing all of these families outside and the community coming together for the day, it’s just awesome,” said Cheryl Campbell, Hamilton Day’s other co-coordinator. “It’s what small town America is. It’s what a real community is.”
Michon added, “It’s Mayberry.”
Dick Mazzucchelli has volunteered with Hamilton Day for 18 years. His Ruritan group used to participate in the parade with a float, “but now we’re all too old,” he joked.
And while he said one of things that makes Hamilton so great is that “the town hasn’t changed much” — especially compared to its bordering communities — Miller said Hamilton has recently become more of a mix between new families and those who have lived in town for decades.
A quick click around Redfin shows that four-bedroom homes on the market hover around $400,000 and $500,000. Larger lots and new-construction houses stretch into the millions.
Campbell said with increasingly hectic schedules, Hamilton Day really is a chance to come together and celebrate the town and the people that make it tick.
“When you get one day to just kind of relax and take a minute to reflect and be together, I think it’s a powerful, powerful thing,” she added.
Want to take a trip to Hamilton? Here are a few places to check out:
Grab lunch at Lowry’s Crab Shack, especially if it’s crab season; check out The Mosby Center, a general store that, as one resident puts it, “has everything”; pop into Natural Mercantile for local meats and organic produce; and score some craft beers and specialty pizza at Hamilton Station.
The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards and Casanel Vineyards and Winery are just a few minutes outside of town. Those who don’t mind a quick drive can check out Breaux Vineyards, Otium Cellars and Sunset Hills Vineyards in Purcellville, plus there’s plenty of shopping in nearby Leesburg.