Get out your dancing shoes! It’s almost time to rock and roll on New Year’s Eve in Falls Church to the tunes of nine bands who’ll play everything from big band sounds to Motown and Marvin Gaye to Steely Dan and Crowded House.
Puppeteers, balloon artists, obstacle courses, indoor and outdoor events, tours, karaoke, interactive activities, food trucks and lots more will fill four blocks starting on the 100 block at West Broad Street from 7 p.m. – midnight in celebration of Little City’s Watch Night New Year’s Eve party.
The best part: it’s all free. It’s also car free. And, to counter the cold weather (although the latest forecast is that it will be 56 degrees that day dropping to the upper 30s that night), there will be heat.
Who needs heat, though, when there will be dancing? Strategically placed fireplaces and fire pits will dispense warmth, but don’t hang there all night or you’ll miss the music and fun.
Attendees can catch a free ride on one of the shuttles, which will run every 30 minutes from the East Falls Church Metro station from 7 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Barb Cram is the city volunteer extraordinaire and Watch Night chief organizer who has worked on the program every year since its beginning in 1998.
She’s a big promoter of Sudden M Pac, a band whose leader, Andre Jackson, is “the whole package, gifted in many ways” with “a golden voice,” Cram attests.
A popular man about town (“Everybody knows who he is,” said Cram), Jackson has worked for the city’s Recreation and Parks Department since 1998.
He referees basketball and flag football, works at the Community Center and coaches football and softball at George Mason High School.
On his way to a Watch Night rehearsal, Jackson stopped to chat with the News-Press on his cell phone. The band loves to play in Falls Church, he said.
“It’s always a good crowd. Always fun. The crowd is receptive to what we do. They enjoy us, and we feed off them,” he said. The band tries to get the crowd involved.
Jackson, a baritone who tours with the Temptations and does a Teddy Pendergrass tribute, said Sudden M Pac plays classical soul, popular and R&B with some Marvin Gaye.
In 2000 he helped organize Sudden M Pac, which got its name because “we wanted to make a statement and wanted to really impact people.
“We’re just a group of guys who love music,” Jackson said. “We try to stand out above everything else. We really get along.”
Sheldon Price, another vocalist in the group, said the first time he heard Jackson sing he was drawn to work with him. “[I thought] Oh my God – I would like to sing background behind him,” he said.
Price, who sang his first solo in church at age 10 or 11, said the group will play for the young and the old.
Then he corrected himself and said, they will play for the young and the older.
“We’re a chemical-free band who like to play music we believe everybody wants to hear, hits from the 70s and 80s right up through 2015, without profanity or sexual lyrics so the whole family can enjoy us,” he said.
Sudden M Pac will close the main stage shows in front of the CVS when it plays from 10:30 p.m. to the stroke of the New Year at midnight.
A quartet of McLean teens, Out of Line, with their own brand of rock, funk and R & B will open at main stage from 7:30 – 8:15 p.m.
Following them from 8:30 – 10:10 p.m. is Big Tow who plays covers of John Hiatt, Bo Deans, Crowded House, Steely Dan, Wilco and Steve Earle.
Why does Cram spend countless hours on this massive undertaking each and every year?
“I receive a lot of good feelings,” she said. Luckily for Falls Church, she retired from running a business in 2004 and became the Watch Night organizer in 2005.
“It’s a great place to see your neighbors, teachers and people you work with,” she said, and, that “it’s just as easy to have fun without drinking.” Still, restaurants that serve alcohol will be open on the Watch Night strip.
Until they run out, free refreshments will be offered at Karl’s Kafe, at Clay Café Studios from 6 – 11:30 p.m., Family Medicine and Falls Church Foot and Ankle Center from 7 – 9 p.m., Falls Church Presbyterian from 7 – 11 p.m. and the Unity Club from 10 p.m. – 1 a.m.
For big band sounds and more dancing, Northern Lights Orchestra will perform from 8:30 – 10:30 p.m. at Falls Church Presbyterian Church at 225 East Broad Street. And there are lots more music venues.
And places for selfies, like at the corner of Washington and Broad where the Virginia Tourism Office’s LOVE sculpture has returned on loan.
For more information about the Watch Night New Year’s Eve celebration, watchnightfallschurch.com.