Local Commentary, Uncategorized

Guest Commentary: Presenting a Recipe for Fun in The Little City

As we all know recipes are something we like to tinker with – even the old standards are still popular in our families. Well just like a favorite family recipe, our town has come up with a recipe all its own for fun which also includes food!

Here’s the recipe we’ve come up with:

1. Invite the guests who’ll share the results,

2. Go shopping and pay for the ingredients you need,

3 Assemble the materials needed to concoct the recipe,

4. Set temperature on the oven, or clear enough room in the refrigerator,

5. Measure out the amounts of ingredients and combine thoroughly,

6. Pour into dish, refrigerate or bake,

7. Select the appropriate time, set timer

8. Set table, decorations, and prepare for guests,

9. Welcome guests, serve recipe,

10. Have fun and enjoy, being sure to clean up as you go so everyone can go home at a decent hour; guests don’t like leaving you with a big mess.

This is the recipe for the success of our very popular New Year’s Eve Celebration – Watch Night in the City of Falls Church. Our Big Night in The Little City, Watch Night is celebrating its 15th anniversary. We have figured out that the recipe is successful because:

1. Everyone loves a party where they can come and enjoy a “good ole family recipe” – an evening with no pressure, having fun with their family or with friends or even alone where meeting new friends is easy,

2. Because one of the basic tenets to Watch Night is that it is free, we ask for donations. We are lucky that some people love the party and want to see it continue. Some are able to give us donations. Some come and help at the party, some sell us ingredients at a deep discount. They like the recipe so much they want others to join the fun, so the party happens every year.

3. Each year we go shopping for ingredients, consider changes – new spices, but the recipe hasn’t changed much.

4. Materials are assembled: pots, pans, tents, sound systems, tables, chairs, lights, generators, electrical cords, trucks, cranes, stages, luminaries, signage, banners.

5. Getting the right temperature is a challenge!

6. Ingredients are measured and put on a schedule.

7. Time to enjoy each course is calculated.

8. Decorations, and final guest preparations are done by wonderful people who also love the recipe and give freely of their time, from an hour to a whole day.

9. Bright lights and colors, music, the smell of popcorn popping, and party hats greet the guests.

10. So many guests come that they see neighbors, co-workers, their kids’ teachers, their favorite storeowner, friends from all over who have come to the party. Watching the kids have fun is special since often families are spread all over with various commitments after school and work. Having this party outside is fun because there is so much to see. Inside there’s a place to sit down for one-on-one conversations; maybe even jitterbug, or dance to the rock music.

If you don’t know about this Recipe For Fun, in The Little City, then you haven’t recently been to our unique New Year’s Eve Celebration held in downtown Falls Church. What makes our recipe unique is not restricted to the ingredients – what makes it unique is the heart of our City: its people!

• The business people who build here and donate a crane and operator for the Historic Star, or those who loan their business locations, or serve free food, are your neighbors and maybe their kids go to our schools.

• The performers might be someone you know from an area restaurant, or is someone who coached your kids, or you know their family from way back.

• The city staff that spends a holiday evening cheerfully pulling, pushing, stretching, wiring, hanging, lifting, leveling, moving, cleaning, bagging, watching, protecting, signing, lugging, schlepping, sometimes shivering and mostly smiling. They are the same folks who you see all over town all year who come out and share their time.

• The nonprofit organizations that contribute financially and bring plenty of volunteers or would-be guests who help at the various venues – some blowing up thousands of balloons which are given away.

The indoor locations – business and downtown church leaders and their members share their facilities. Members and would-be guests come early to set up tables, chairs, refreshments, decorations, and loaned sound systems.

Unity Club Members hang lights, set up tables, chairs, blow up balloons, run the popcorn machine for the guests.

Watch Night is fun to watch because of all of the wonderful people who make it happen. Great Recipe – so Falls Church!


Barbara Cram is the volunteer coordinator for F.C.’s Watch Night celebration.