“Big Night in The Little City” is the theme for the New Year’s Eve fete in downtown Falls Church known as Watch Night. The intersection of Route 7 and 29 will once again be transformed come Dec. 31 from a busy crossroads into the site of a free, family-friendly event that has become a mainstay of end-of-the-year celebration for locals.
Weather always plays a big role in turnout, according to Barb Cram, the City volunteer who spearheads Watch Night efforts. Last year’s moderate weather resulted in a turnout of around 2,500, and it’s not just residents of The Little City that are getting involved.
“We’re trying to make this a Metro party, with Falls Church being the center of it,” Cram said. “It’s to show the community spirit we have here, and invite others to participate.”
The “Big Night in The Little City,” theme is fulfilled by a lineup of entertainment featuring performances by big-name local music acts and other activities and attractions.
Among the performers lined up for the 14th annual event include Sudden M Pac bringing Motown sounds, Rites of Ash covering classic tunes, and Cowboy Haye playing a number of antique instruments (as well as the spoons).
High school musicians will also take to the stage, including performers from Falls Church City’s own George Mason High School.
Other spots in the Watch Night vicinity will offer up musical merriment. Northern Lights Orchestra, the 20-piece band that plays big band tunes for revelers ready to swing, will perform at The Falls Church Presbyterian Church, the tunes will pump at the Unity Club for its DJ Dance, Andrew Acosta and his New Old Time String Band will play at The Falls Church, and several area restaurants will host musical entertainment.
Inflatable activities set up along West Broad Street, like a 66-foot-long dragon, will delight young Watch Night goers, in addition to face painting, caricatures, and balloon art offered at The Falls Church Presbyterian Church and crafts at Clay Cafe Studios.
The long history of Falls Church City will be celebrated at the event with attractions like guided tours of The Falls Church and the Victorian Photo Studio at The Falls Church Presbyterian Church that lets participants dress up in garb from the era for photos.
Soup, hot chocolate, and popcorn will be available on the strip – for as long as it lasts – for visitors looking for a snack. Area restaurants will also be open, some late into the evening, and some will be offering special New Year’s Eve menus.
In order to facilitate the influx of those celebrating, a shuttle bus will stop at all Watch Night venues every half hour, and will also make stops at the East Falls Church Metro station. Parking is available at The Falls Church and The Falls Church Presbyterian Church.
A welcome booth set up at George Mason Square will provide guests with maps, programs, and information to help them make their way through all the entertainment they can enjoy from 7 p.m. up until that big moment when 2011 becomes 2012 – when visitors can take part in Watch Night’s special way to ring in the New Year.
As the masses chant through the countdown of the final seconds of the passing year, The Star will be lowered from a crane for all to see, the City’s take on Times Square’s dropping mirror ball. The 12-foot star, which once overlooked the City from high atop its water tower, is lowered each year to bring an end to the Watch Night festivities and welcome the New Year. While The Star’s descent is usually accompanied by a fireworks show, regulations have made the usual show not feasible. The lights and sounds will not be missed, however – according to Cram, the fireworks display will be replaced with a laser lights show, and hundreds of noisemakers distributed to the crowd will make a bang.
More information about the event as the big day approaches will be available on the City’s website (fallschurchva.gov), as well as in a special Watch Night edition of the News-Press due out Dec. 29.