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Polco News & Knowledge

How Vienna Builds Quality of Life Through Special Events

-By Brian Smith-

Vienna, Virginia nurtures a vibrant small town identity through celebrations, parades, and block parties.

The Town of Vienna, Virginia calls itself an ‘anomaly’ and for good reason.

Compared to the many cookie cutter bedroom communities and urban centers of the neighboring greater Washington D.C. area, Vienna has formed a vibrant small town identity through the many opportunities for education and enrichment.

Those opportunities have led to an incredible quality of life compared to surrounding areas and the nation as a whole. Almost all residents rated the quality of life in Vienna as excellent or good, according to The National Community Survey (The NCS).

In Vienna, that identity is chiefly formed through its many special events, some of which have been traditions for more than 70 years.

“In a social media-connected world in which busy people have, ironically, become more isolated, the Town’s myriad events allow residents to relax and reconnect in ways that harken to the traditions of small town Americana,” said Lynne Coan, Communications and Marketing Manager for the Town.

“Vienna should be very proud of all the hard work they have done to bring the community together,” said Damema Mann, Director of National Engagement for Polco/ National Research Center (NRC).

Vienna recently won the 2019 Voice of the People award for Excellence in Education and Enrichment for its focus on special events and their contributions to the town’s quality of life.  This is the only national award that honors local governments based on feedback from residents. The award is presented by Polco/ National Research Center (NRC) and the International City & County Management Association (ICMA). This award acknowledges local governments that have the highest ratings on The NCS and that take the best actions on behalf of their communities.


From Santa Visits to Ice Cream Socials

Residents are very happy with Vienna’s education and enrichment opportunities. Community members rated everything from cultural and art activities to adult and child education to special events above the national average on The NCS.

In 2018, the city reported hosting 78 events, many in partnership with other organizations. Some of the Town’s many events are locals-only, such as block parties, a Fourth of July celebration, and concerts on the lawn. Others draw regional crowds, such as the annual Halloween parade, which has marched down the Town’s main street for more than 70 years.

“The Town’s repertoire of events serves a wide range of ages, from preschoolers who want to have lunch and share their wish lists with Santa, to mature adults who appreciate gathering for a Thanksgiving luncheon or a summer bingo and ice cream social,” Coan said. 

“The events themselves vary in scale, from small gatherings, such as a flashlight Easter egg hunt and a kids’ obstacle course race to grand three-day affairs that bring tens of thousands of people to Vienna,” she added.

The Town credits the area’s many community organizations it partners with as the reason they are able to host such a variety and number of events. Some of the organizers donate revenue from the events back into the community.

Improving Special Events to Deepen Town Pride

The Town believes that its focus on events and enrichment also benefits the community’s sense of connection and pride.

Looking forward, the Town will continue to enhance its event programming. In recent years, Vienna hired a dedicated special events coordinator, allowing the Town to centralize event services and expand capacity.

In fact, Vienna’s commitment to its special events is baked into the Town’s strategic plan, with increasing the quality and quantity of event programming as one of the strategies identified.

“The fact that the Town offers so many and such a variety of opportunities for residents to gather is really what Vienna citizens have come to expect of and appreciate about their hometown,” Coan said.

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