On November 23, the evening after Thanksgiving, 100,000 Hoosiers will come together on Monument Circle to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Circle of Lights presented by the contractors of Quality Connection and electrical workers of IBEW 481. The annual event will feature a live show by performers selected through a statewide talent search audition. The show begins at 6 p.m. and is broadcast live at 7 p.m. on RTV-6, and the lights will be flipped on at around 7:45 p.m. While this year’s celebration will bring back many of its popular features from years past, its sponsors are also introducing an array of new programs and attractions in celebration of the community event’s 50th anniversary.
Beginning November 1, the Circle of Lights Coloring Contest returns, which has been a family-favorite part of the event for more than two decades. Kids 12 and younger are invited to draw and color their own design on an official coloring sheet depicting a large blank Christmas light bulb. One young artist will be selected to “flip the switch” on the 4,784 lights strung from the Soldiers and Sailors Monument during this year’s Circle of Lights. On top of that privilege, he or she will get to meet Santa, have their winning artwork framed and receive a free t-shirt.
As a new feature this year, a Circle of Lights Essay Contest will be offered in celebration of the 50th anniversary. Teens aged 13 – 18 have the opportunity to enter the contest, challenging them to write in 500 words or less about the value of community tradition. The top three essays, as determined by a panel of member organization representatives, will each receive a $1,000 college savings deposit.
But the fun and creativity leading up to the historic 50th anniversary celebration isn’t limited to just kids – adults will also have the opportunity to contribute. A user-generated content web page, an open forum for community input, will be available through Jan. 12 on Quality Connection’s website, allowing anyone to submit their own experiences from past Circle of Lights celebrations. Visitors are encouraged to share their first-hand experiences or stories from their parents and relatives, and will even be able to upload photographs. The page will remain accessible until the décor is taken down in January so that stories and photographs from this year’s event can be posted as well. The web page can be accessed at www.qc-indy.com.
To ensure that the very special 50th celebration of the Circle of Lights is remembered by future generations, a collection of mementos from the event will be enclosed in a 50th anniversary Circle of Lights time capsule, including Coloring/Essay contest entries plus photos and memories pulled from the online forum. Other items to be sealed inside include a light bulb from the decor, tools used by volunteer IBEW 481 electrical workers, a signed script from the evening’s show and a congressional proclamation honoring the Circle of Lights. The capsule will be stored at the Indiana Historical Society.
People attending the 50th anniversary Circle of Lights celebration the day after Thanksgiving this year will have the chance to be a part of the history of Central Indiana’s greatest holiday tradition. This outstanding annual event would not exist today without the dedication and generosity of the contractors of Quality Connection and electrical workers of IBEW 481, who now not only install the famous décor, but continue to partner in sponsoring the event so that it remains free to the community.