According to advance weather reports, New Year’s Eve will mark the first time in weeks that the temperature will rise above 40 degrees in the region, and that augers well for the annual free and festive Watch Night celebration adjacent the intersection of Routes 7 and 29 in downtown Falls Church next week.
But regardless of the weather, as tradition now shows, the annual event begun in the 1990s will provide a safe and local environment for revelers from all over the region to come and dine at fine restaurants, enjoy kid-friendly activities and hear good music.
While the 100 block of West Broad (Rt. 7) will be closed to traffic beginning at 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, the action starts at 7 p.m. with the first of six bands performing on the main stage in the middle of the block. A 66-foot inflatable dragon will become the major landmark.
The main stage bands, introduced by master of ceremonies Andre Jackson, will include formations of students from Falls Church’s George Mason High School, including Guava (jazz) and Rand’s Band (contemporary rock). They will be followed by The Suppliers (contemporary rock), Cowboy Hay, Judo Chop (80s) and Sudden M Pac (Motown).
“Fun Alley” also kicks off at 7 p.m., including a moon bounce, slide, velcro wall, karaoke and free popcorn. The Unity Club located in the block will host a dance starting at 10 p.m., and local musical legend Andrew Acosta and his New Old Time String Band, featuring fiddler Speedy Tolliver, will play from 8 to 10 p.m. at the Historic Falls Church less than a block off the central intersection.
The group, Judo Chop Acoustic, will be playing from 7 p.m. on the balcony of the Family Medicine and F.C. Foot and Ankle building. A scavenger hunt will also take part at that location, with free refreshments.
At the Falls Church Presbyterian Church a block east on Broad St., activities including a Victorian photo parlor, Cowboy Hay, the Northern Lights Big Band Orchestra, caricaturist Marie Cheek, a balloon entertainer and professional face painter will be offered, along with free popcorn and refreshments.
Restaurants in proximity of the event will remain open, including some with special menus and New Year’s trinkets, such as Ireland’s Four Provinces, the Dogwood Tavern, Argia’s and Clare and Don’s Beach Shack.
As the clock approaches midnight, local dignitaries will assemble on the Main Stage for an energetic countdown. In conjunction, the historic, lighted Falls Church City Star will be lowered on a crane donated by Atlantic Realty. Historically, large crowds have assembled for the countdown ceremony.
The highlighted honoree this year will be Howard Herman, who announced that he is retiring next spring after serving for 40 years as the director of parks and recreation for the City of Falls Church.
The event, whose key organizer is Falls Church’s Barb Cram, is a major showcase for downtown City businesses and restaurants, and provides City residents, their friends and their children a wholesome environment to ring in the New Year.