2024-07-24 11:29 AM

Letter to the Editor: Tinner Hill Contributions to Watch Night


As I read the article in the News-Press last week entitled, “Watch Night to Return The NYE”, I couldn’t help but get a sense that Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation gets little credit for the significant role Tinner Hill has contributed to many of the community programs that make up the fabric of the Little City.

After the Tri-Centennial Eve celebration in 1998, Tinner Hill led the effort to continue the New Year’s Eve celebration and registered a trademark on “Watch Night®”. Watch Night is a term steeped in the African American experience. Many traditionally African American churches hold Watch Night services in remembrance of when the Emancipation Proclamation came into effect on January 1st, 1863, and the enslaved people in the “States currently in rebellion” would be freed. Like those enslaved here in our community of Falls Church. “Freedom’s Eve”!

The Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation was responsible for the planning and operations of Watch Night®, as the Non-Profit pass thru for all funds received and paid, managed by the accounting firm of Diener and Associates. Around 2007, Barb Cram took over the full planning and operations of the event. In 2014, Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation sold the trademark for Watch Night® to the Little City CATCH Foundation.

The agreement to sell the trademark to Little City CATCH Foundation stipulated that Tinner Hill will continue to be acknowledged as the founders of Watch Night. But the article in FCNP made it seem that Tinner Hill was only a minor player in the metamorphosis of Falls Church’s New Year’s Eve Celebration.

Tinner Hill established many community programs and initiatives in Falls Church, such as our Music Festival, Women’s History Walk, Martin Luther King Day March, as well as our historic site, heritage trail and monument.

When articles are written that leave out the positive contributions of African Americans, this is typically known as “the sin of omission,” so that going forward no one will know what happened or who made contributions. This is why our work is so important.

Edwin Henderson
Falls Church





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