Letters to the Editor: Tinner Hill Foundation Founded F.C.’s ‘Watch Night’

Letters to the Editor: January 30 – February 5, 2010

Tinner Hill Foundation Founded F.C.’s ‘Watch Night’


As many of you may not know, WatchNight is a registered trademark, first taken out by the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation in 2001. And that is because the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation is the founding organization for the Watch Night celebration.

Following the City’s “Tri-Centennial Eve” celebration in 1998 on New Year’s Eve, the following year (1999), Tinner Hill, thanks to David Eckert (Tinner Hill’s vice president at the time) decided to keep the tradition going. At first, he wanted to use the name “First Night”, which was already trademarked and there was a cost associated with it. So, Dave spoke with one of Tinner Hill’s board members, Rev. Clyde Nelson of the Galloway United Methodist Church, who suggested using the name “Watch Night.” Many African American churches use the term “Watch Night” for their New Year’s Eve services, because it is associated with American slavery and the Emancipation Proclamation on Dec. 31, 1862.

The Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation trademarked the term “WatchNight,” and was the fiduciary and financial pass-thru for most, if not all of the funds associated with organizing the event until around 2007. Our treasurer and accountant can attest to that. Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation transferred the ownership of the trademark to the C.A.T.C.H. Foundation in 2014.

However, none of this would have been possible without the blessings of the Falls Church City staff, Falls Church Police and Department of Public Works. Also, special thanks to Barb Cram and many others who have helped to make WatchNight truly a community effort. But, the history and Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation’s founding of WatchNight should not be lost because of the passing of time.

Edwin Henderson

Founder, Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation

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