Falls Church and area residents can renew “auld” acquaintances (and make new ones) on New Year’s Eve when the 17th annual Watch Night party lights up downtown starting at 7 p.m.
The sponsors call it a “Big Night in the Little City,” which takes place within Broad and Washington streets, from the State Theatre to the Historic Falls Church.
And there’s no need to hire a babysitter since many activities are geared for children, who may be so enamored by the puppets, the face painting, the caricaturist and the obstacle courses that they outlast mom and dad. Watch Night is a good place to use up extra calories consumed over the holidays – there will be dance halls available throughout the five hour event.
Northern Lights Big Band Orchestra with 17 pieces will play at the Falls Church Presbyterian Church at 225 East Broad from 8:30 – 10:30 p.m. They are one of nine bands, with many Falls Church residents among their members, that will rock the city until 12:30 a.m. at eight venues, indoors and out.
You don’t like dancing?
Then, how about climbing walls?
A scavenger hunt?
Bounce “on the moon.”
A “Mega Challenge Obstacle Course,” an “Adrenaline Rush Obstacle Course,” a Velcro wall and a Castle-Slide combo will all be available for any seeking an adventure at Watch Night.
A balloon hats competition will be conducted on the “stealth” by secret judges who will walk around and take notes with the winners to be announced around 11 p.m.
If swing ain’t your thing and some events call for more physical exertion than some may be willing to put out, there is always a tour of the Historic Falls Church from 7 – 8 p.m.
Event attendees can also make a clay sculpture during free studio time at Clay Studios.
Coordinating all this effort is Barb Cram, a volunteer who has worked on the event since 2006. And she knows her stuff.
For sure, weather will not stop the greatest show in Falls Church, Cram said, although the forecast calls for a 40 percent chance of rain and snow that day (with a projected high of 36 according to the Weather Channel).
Watch Night is a walkable event with accessibility for the disabled – the streets allow mobility and First Presbyterian Church is especially equipped for handicapped persons.
And if walking is not your thing, free shuttles which will run every 30 minutes from 7 p.m. – 1 a.m. to each of the venues, starting with the East Falls Church Metro station.
To combat the cold, Watch Night participants may warm their tootsies at fireplaces and fire pits at “hot spots” at the Grand FunAlley and on the 100 block of West Broad, courtesy of Sisler’s Stone, according to Cram.
Watch Night is anchored at the intersection of Washington and Broad Streets, but there is plenty of free parking at the Falls Church Presbyterian Church, Falls Church Episcopal and the top floor of the parking deck at Kaiser-Permanente at the 100 block of Park Avenue.
Gary LaPorta and Jeffrey Garafalo will be the evening’s masters of ceremonies.
For photo ops, station your subjects at the 16 x 6 foot rendition of the LOVE artwork, on display at the George Mason Square from Dec. 26 – Jan. 2 in conjunction with the “Virginia is for Lovers” campaign.
If you get hungry, food trucks and restaurants lining Broad will be open for business and free popcorn will be available.
Some of the restaurants will have free snacks, like Local Market at 246 West Broad and Ireland’s Four Provinces at 105 West Broad, which will offer free Irish potato soup and hot chocolate while supplies last.
No alcohol is permitted in the outdoor public spaces.
The bands set to play on the Main Stage in front of the CVS are Thirteenth Story, 60 Feet Tall, Cactus Liquors and Lu and the Blues Crew, the last act from 10:30 p.m. – 12 a.m. before the “Countdown Spectacular.”
The Unity Club will feature Jackwagon Band to play rock and roll for dancing and the club will have free popcorn and a refreshment tent.
Other bands scheduled for Watch Night are Big Tow on the balcony of Family Medicine and at Falls Church Foot and Ankle at 104-106 East Broad Street, Cowboy Hay and Andrew Acosta and Friends.
Daniel Schlitt, the director of parks and recreation for Falls Church, praised the efforts of Cram and her crew which have steered the night successfully for many years. About 4,300 attended Watch Night last year, Cram said, and she anticipates more attendees this year.
Major Watch Night sponsors are the City of Falls Church, the Falls Church Economic Development Authority, the Village Preservation and Improvement Society, Falls Church News-Press, Falls Church Chamber of Commerce, the Young Group, Atlantic Realty, Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation and Tori McKinney of Rock Star Realty.
In addition to the venue hosts, other sponsors are Dr. Gordon Theisz, Dr. Paul Cannon, Avalon Communities, New Editions Consulting, Dr. Melanie Love, Dr. Mark Miller and Burke & Herbert Bank.
Supporters are Viget, Foxes Music Company and the Oshinsky Family Partnership. Contributors are Drew Pelton, Tax & Retirement Solutions, Dr. William Dougherty, and Clay Café Studios. For more information, check out the Watch Night website, www.watchnightfallschurch.com.