INDIANAPOLIS — A holiday tradition marked a special milestone this year.
Circle of Lights celebrated its 50th anniversary Friday evening on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis.
The event includes live entertainment and a visit from Santa before the flipping of a switch that powers 52 garland strands containing 4,784 color lights strung on the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. In addition, the decorations include 26 large toy soldiers and sailors that surround the monument, along with 26 peppermint sticks.
"We find that this has become a very big tradition for families in central Indiana," said Jennifer Hanson, communications director for Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., one of the organizers of Circle of Lights. "I've talked with people on-site who are grandparents and are with their kids and grandkids. They come every year as a family to kick off the holiday season together. We see that time and time again. We know this is the holiday kick-off for a lot of people. And new people coming to town, we see them making it a tradition. It's really cool to see."
More than 100,000 spectators were estimated to have attended the event this year. That sea of humanity filled Monument Circle and stretched as far south as Washington Street on the southside of the circle, where the stage was erected.
There they watched RTV-6 meteorologist Kevin Gregory emcee a bill of entertainers singing classic Christmas carols. The list included Tony and Tyler Jonas, a father/son duet from Plainfield, and special guest Angela Brown of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's "Yuletide Celebration."
RTV-6 conducted two auditions for Circle of Lights talent. The process normally draws more than a hundred candidates. This year, Hanson says, it was closer to 150.
"It's (a tough choice) when you only have five or six slots to fill," she said. "We see a lot of very talented people."