Celebrating the New Year in Falls Church should be a pleasant affair with forecasts of clear and mild weather for this Saturday during the City’s annual Watch Night festivities. Area residents can blast off into 2017 beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday in downtown Falls Church.
Vehicles won’t be running – because W. Broad Street will be shut down – but friends and neighbors will be humming while musicians are drumming and strumming the night away. The 19th annual Watch Night in the Little City has something free for everyone to see and hear, to dance, to ride, to boogie, to climb, rock and roll and to eat.
The place to be will be four city blocks at Washington and Broad streets made pedestrian-friendly with vehicle prohibitions, showy new lights and staging to brighten up Falls Church as never before.
“There will be plenty of free parking,” says Watch Night organizer Barb Cram. “No worries about that.” Beginning at 7 p.m., free shuttle buses will run from the East Falls Metro station to the party every 30 minutes until 1 a.m., and merrymakers may park at the Metro station without charge, or at the Falls Church Presbyterian Church, the Falls Church Episcopal or on the third floor of the Kaiser Permanente parking garage.
Visitors can check out the musical offerings, tours of historic Falls Church, free treats, inflatables, amusements and new rides for little people (and older people, too).
If the temperature is too low, one of three strategically placed outdoor warming pits or fireplaces, courtesy of Sislers Stone, will warm tootsies. Visitors can also head for an indoor venue to warm up or listen to music and dance the night away.
At an information booth at Washington and Broad, volunteers will have schedules and lists of the bands and venues.
The 68-year-old star of the city, found in storage many years ago by city crews and since restored, will be shining its light on the Little City below from a crane near the event’s main stage. Just before midnight, the star will begin its descent for the countdown to close the night’s festivities.
Music and Dancing
On the main stage will be a new musical group for Watch Night, the Hayley Fahey Band, led by singer-songwriter, pianist and guitarist Hayley Fahey, influenced by soul, rock, blues, country and pop music. Rounding out her band is a guitarist, bass player, percussionist and vocalist.
Another new addition to the stage are the Star Stragglers from George C. Marshall and Oakton high schools, playing ‘60s, modern rock and original compositions.
Closing out the night on the main stage is Sudden M Pac, returning from last year, with band members playing and singing the O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass, Temptations, Marvin Gaye and Earth, Wind and Fire hits.
Watch Night will have indoor dancing, too, at Falls Church Presbyterian. Cowboy Hay kicks off at 7 p.m. and then big band sounds of the Northern Lights Orchestra start at 8:30 p.m.
The Stewart Sisters and Andrew Acosta and Friends will both perform their authentic roots music at the historic Falls Church.
Rides and Thrills
New this year is the Fantastic Flyer Swing Ride and, for ages 2 – 6, a carousel while older children can test their skills on a variety of obstacle courses with different themes and challenges.
A pirate ship slide combo with three-dimensional masts is made for pirates young and old, supporting up to 10 people for climbing, sliding and jumping on a captain’s wheel or up to the sails.
On the rock climb slide, two can race through a double ring obstacle at the same time, climb the rock wall and swish down a 14-foot slide to the finish.
Meanwhile, try to maneuver through tubes, over and around obstacles and scale the rock climb wall to a 10-foot slide at the Extreme Dual Challenge.
Finally, the famous “LOVE” artwork, great for picture taking, will be at the corner of Broad and Washington.
Free apple cider and other treats will be available at both churches, and, while supplies last, Ireland’s Four Provinces will serve up free potato soup and hot chocolate. Up and down Broad and nearby Washington Street, restaurants will be open and, as crowds are expected, reservations are strongly encouraged.
Watch Night in Falls Church began on December 31, 1998 on the 300th anniversary of the founding of the City. It continues under the direction of Cram who is aided by, she estimates, about 75 volunteers, along with businesses, churches and civic groups. Cram says she is still looking for volunteers for this year’s Watch Night celebration and asks those interested to call 703-679-7881.
The Little City’s big celebration “is fun, it’s free, it’s safe, and the place to be on New Year’s Eve,” Cram exclaims.