The COVID-19 pandemic has upended traditions left and right this year, and it appears the final day of 2020 will be no exception.
The City of Falls Church’s annual Watch Night New Year’s Eve celebration has been canceled due to public health concerns and “in deference to our front-line health care workers, who are risking all,” the volunteer-run organization responsible for the event announced yesterday (Wednesday) in a message shared by the city.
“With all the hope for the vaccines that are now in the distribution chain, the responsible decision is to not have the Watch Night Celebration this year and have more people healthy for a better year in 2021,” the Little City CATCH Foundation said.
This would have been the 23rd consecutive year that Falls Church marked the coming of a new year with Watch Night.
First held in 1998 to ring in the city’s tricentennial, Watch Night transforms downtown Falls Church into a walkable plaza of musical performances, refreshment stalls, and various family-friendly activities, culminating in the lowering of a 12-foot star that once stood on the water tower behind the original city hall.
Originally produced by the Falls Church Tricentennial Committee, the celebration was later supported by local nonprofit groups like the Village Society, Tinner Hill Foundation, and the Victorian Society at Falls Church, according to the Watch Night website.
Falls Church City eventually formed the Little City CATCH Foundation in September 2012 to serve as the permanent Watch Night organizer and support other arts, culture, and history events in the city.
Because one of the guiding principles of Watch Night is for it to be free and open to the whole public, the Little City CATCH Foundation says it would have been “very difficult” to adapt the event to the crowd limits and social distancing protocols that mitigate the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus.
“A lot of volunteers and dedicated City staff are involved each year with orchestrating the festivities,” the foundation said. “We have deeply appreciated their efforts and we do not want to put them or attendees at risk. We want them all back for future years.”
Image via City of Falls Church