As millions watched the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington, DC or the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center in New York, millions more waited to bring their little ones to stand in the December chill at their local tree lighting, which signals the official start to the holiday season at the local level.
However, the almost 100,000 folks that populate Germantown will not be among them. If Germantown residents want to go out and enjoy seasonal merriment at a local celebration of the “most wonderful time of the year”, they would be standing alone in the cold. There is no civic celebration of the holidays in Germantown.
Once again the largest population center in Montgomery County has nothing scheduled for residents wishing to participate in a civic pride event must go to somebody else’s town and enjoy their fellowship, pride, and joy. Of course, some churches and other organizations are holding some event, but there is nothing that the entire town can rally behind.
In Rockville, there was the Holiday Open House, which featured Santa’s arrival, the Holiday Tree Lighting, the free photos with Santa, and even Aaron Gilchrist from NBC4 Morning News as a guest of honor. In Poolesville residents gathered on Whalen Commons for the town’s is 10th Annual Holiday Lighting Event. Both of those events took place on Friday, Dec. 4.
In Gaithersburg, there were two such events. On November 21, Light Up Washingtonian at the RIO featured a tree lighting countdown, Santa and Mrs. Claus, all hosted by NBC4’s Melissa Mollet. Also in Gaithersburg is the Jingle Jubilee & Tree Lighting, held Saturday, Dec. 5 at the City Hall Concert Pavilion in Olde Towne. It was billed as a “joyous event, perfect for families with young children,” according to the press release.
There is no joy for Germantown.
Indeed, holiday decorations on our Town Center street, Century Boulevard consist of just 11 of light poles wrapped in garland and red bow and those are only on one block of the four-block strip of stores, shops, and eateries. Many thanks to nice folks from the property management company on that block for trying to give our town some spirit.
But in the end it looks like a town that has given only a half-hearted effort. It is a slight nod to the season. It feels like we’ve all been forced to put on nice shoes to go grandmas. It certainly doesn’t seem like a warm embrace of good will toward man.
Montgomery County spent 10-years and millions of dollars to create the Germantown Town Center Park, which opened this past October to serve as a place where residents could gather. It could easily serve as a great place for a multicultural holiday celebration. However, there isn’t a single decoration in the park. In fact, on a sunny Friday afternoon in December, there wasn’t a single person in the park.
Residents are left to wonder, who do we talk to about getting some sort of Germantown civic event to mark the holidays? There is no mayor, no town council, no selectman, or ombudsman, no alderman, no town commissioner — no leader in Germantown.
It is too late for anything to happen this year, but perhaps the revitalized Germantown Alliance can find some way to create an event committee. However, even if that were to come about, who is going to pay for these events? Perhaps, the County Council could find a few thousand dollars to give to donate for the betterment of the largest population center in the county.
Or maybe it is time that the largest population center in the County starts to elect more officials that might be more sympathetic to the needs of the Germantown area. Maybe it’s time we get more representation on the County Council. Maybe it’s time we start to seriously organize as a political block. Maybe it is time that Germantown starts thinking about becoming a town instead of a collection of friendly neighbors that live close to each other, but celebrate with people who live elsewhere.
Germantown, it is time to come in from the cold.