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Op-Ed: New Year’s Eve Party is Just What Germantown Needs, BlackRock Takes A Step in Right Direction

I have lived and worked in Germantown for almost six years. It is a great place to live, but, one thing I’ve noticed, on which the Germantown Pulse seems to agree with me — we lack a sense of community.

What makes up a community, that even other unincorporated places, like Silver Spring or Bethesda, have developed? I think it’s a combination of things, like having established traditions, accessing strong community institutions, and enjoying events that bring us all together.

Toward that end, the BlackRock Center for the Arts is stepping up to the plate by hosting BlackRockin’ New Year’s 2019, a first-time event to ring in the new year that is a promising sign of things to come.

Full disclosure, since November, I am the newly minted marketing manager at BlackRock, but these are my own thoughts - not necessarily the views of my boss, or BlackRock Center for the Arts.

BlackRock is doing it up in style. With an all-night dance floor, casino-style gaming tables (with grand prizes, not cash, on the line), a jazz piano cocktail lounge, and even a classic James Bond film screening in the Mainstage Theater, there will be plenty of entertainment choices to suit many different tastes. Food, cash bar, a champagne toast… and all of this is happening in the heart of our community on Century Boulevard, in the confines of BlackRock’s beautiful building, giving the whole event an air of class and feeling of being “official.” BlackRockin’ New Year’s 2019 will be “The Place to Be” in the UpCounty on Dec. 31. That’s not something that Germantown has ever really had.

BlackRockin’ New Year’s 2019 is an ambitious event, but it reflects the hopes of many for what Germantown might become, and is a signal that BlackRock is stepping up as a key institution in defining our community.

Building community is not something where we ought to always look to government to provide a solution, because it’s not something they can really impose. Montgomery County has, largely, done its part toward this end by providing resources, like the BlackRock building itself, the South Germantown Recreation Park, the Germantown Public Library, Plum-Gar Recreation Center and others — our modern-day commons, essentially. Ultimately, Germantown will be what the people of Germantown, and the institutions they build, make of it.

BlackRock’s executive director, Alyona Ushe, quickly saw the possibility that her new position uniquely offered to become a cornerstone of our community. She has made a bold push in that direction — literally doubling down by bringing an unprecedented 80 performances this season in a lineup as diverse as our town, and breaking new ground with this first annual New Year’s party. She is also continuing BlackRock’s commitment to the Summer Concert Series and art galleries, which are free to the public.

I applaud this vision. The opportunity to play such a role in building the community I’ve come to love was irresistible, and brought me on board.

So, yes, I hope you’ll be able to join us at BlackRockin’ New Year’s 2019, to ring in the new year as we take steps toward a Germantown which makes us all a little prouder, with an event that should become an UpCounty tradition.

About the author: Bobby Bartlett is a Germantown resident and the marketing manager at the BlackRock Center for the Arts. He is also a former Democratic candidate for Maryland Delegate to represent the 39th District, which includes Germantown.

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