City of Fairfax and Mason Hold Parade to Celebrate Patriots’ Success

Posted: April 5, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

On Friday, April 7, the City of Fairfax and George Mason will hold a parade beginning at 11:15 a.m. to honor the outstanding success of the George Mason University Patriots men’s basketball team.

“We’re thrilled to be hosting this parade with George Mason University,” says City of Fairfax Mayor Robert Lederer. “The basketball team and Coach Larranaga scored a tremendous victory, and they handled it with poise and class. What’s more, they put the names of the City of Fairfax and Fairfax County on the front page of every newspaper in the country. They accomplished in two weeks what some of us have been trying to do for years. This is our small way of saying thanks, and congratulations.”

The parade will start from Courthouse Plaza near the Safeway on Old Lee Highway and go along University Drive to the George Mason campus. At Mason, the parade will turn left from University Drive onto Patriot Circle and go past the residence halls and the Aquatic and Fitness Center. Then the parade will turn onto Mason Pond Drive, ending at the Center for the Arts.

The parade is expected to end about noon, at which time the participants will go to the Johnson Center atrium for a rally and celebration.

Parking restrictions have been lifted on surface lots at Mason for Friday, so local residents can attend the parade and the Johnson Center celebration. Mason Pond Drive will also be blocked off to parking on parade day until 1 p.m.

Participants from George Mason will include head Coach Jim Larranaga and members of the basketball team and coaching staff; President Alan Merten and Sally Merten; and Mason cheerleaders, Pep Band, Mason Dancers and Gunston, the team mascot.

The mayor and other area elected officials will participate, as will the marching bands of Fairfax and Dunbar High Schools.

At the Johnson Center ceremony, the mayor will present the Keys of the City to Larranaga, the team and Merten; the Fairfax postmaster, Carl Karnish, will present a special postal cancellation that bears the Patriots logo; and Visit Fairfax, Fairfax County’s tourism office, will present banners signed by well-wishers from throughout the county.

Missing from the celebration in person, though not in spirit, will be the three senior starters, Lamar Butler, Tony Skinn and Jai Lewis, who are in Portsmouth, Va., for the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a pre-NBA draft camp. They are among 64 seniors invited to participate in the tournament, which provides NBA scouts a chance to evaluate prospective recruits.

The parade caps a tremendously exciting season for the Patriots, who can claim an impressive list of “firsts”:

  • First trip to the NCAA Final Four in school history.

  • First trip to the NCAA Elite Eight in school history.

  • First trip to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in school history.

  • First NCAA win in school history.

  • First time the Patriots have defeated two top-10 teams, Connecticut and North Carolina.

  • First season in school history with 27 wins and 497 assists.

  • First season in school history to end with a .384 field-goal percentage defense and 58.9 scoring defense.

  • First team from the Colonial Athletic Association to reach the Final Four.

Write to at