The 52nd Annual Circle of Lights

Live entertainment, ‘The Voice’ champion Josh Kaufman sets mood for this year’s lighting of Monument Circle
By Casey Kensworthy


With the holidays quickly approaching again this year, the beauty and festivities of it are certainly sure to follow. Aside from the classical activities such as watching little ones sit on Santa’s lap at the local shopping centers or decking the halls with boughs of holly, Hoosiers in central Indiana take pride in the annual tradition of setting up the Circle of Lights Christmas tree on the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. 

For those who may not know, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, located in downtown Indianapolis, is the largest monument in the nation that shows dedication to the common soldier, standing approximately 248 feet tall (just 21 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty) and crafted out of Indiana limestone that took roughly 12 years to construct. “Victory,” or otherwise known as “Miss Indiana” by Hoosiers, is the 38 foot bronze statue that rests at the peak of the monument to welcome soldiers returning home from battle.

For nearly 52 years, Contractors of Quality Connection and Electrical Workers of IBEW #481 have sponsored the decorating of the monument with more than 4,500 Christmas lights in the motif and style that represents a Christmas tree. Each November more than 200 volunteers from IBEW spend nearly six hours hanging and securing roughly 600 miles of electrical wire and nearly 2 miles of garland for the decoration of this event. Aside from the Christmas lights, the monument is also supplied with 26 “larger-than-life” toy soldiers and sailors that stand at a staggering 12 feet tall and also 26 peppermint sticks that stand at 10 feet. The light bulb colors themselves represent each branch of the military: green represents the army, clear represents the air force, blue represents the navy, yellow represents the coast guard and red represents the marines.

In honor of the 52-year anniversary, 52 strands of garland and 52 decorations will be used for this year’s event. Jennifer Hanson, the senior communications director of the Circle of Lights Event, has been a part of the celebration for 16 years now, with her first Circle of Lights event taking place during the 1999 decoration transformations. As a veteran member of the Circle of Lights team, Ms. Hanson has had the opportunity to be a part of monument’s many years of holiday decorations. 
Hanson goes on to describe the event. 

“It’s a good feeling, to be a part of something like this and see thousands of people each year who are willing to stand at temperatures ranging from 0 to 50 degrees, simply because they love seeing the lights and get into the mood for the holidays.”

The official lighting of the tree is set to take place on November 28 at 8:20 p.m. The opening ceremony for the event is set to have local musicians and entertainers perform starting at 6 p.m., with IUPUI’s own Josh Kaufman, winner of the 2014 season of “The Voice” to be the headliner during the show. Aside from live performers, Santa Clause himself will be making an
appearance to greet the younger members of the crowd during the event.

IUPUI students are strongly encouraged to view this free Circle of Lights Event that will be lasting from November 28 to January 10 of 2015, giving plenty of time and opportunity to build morale for Christmas and the New Year. There will be a live televised event of all the festivities happening on November 28 from 7-8 p.m. on RTV-6. 

With millions of spectators expected to visit this year, there’s no doubt that the Circle of Lights is truly a sight to see. 

“This is something that is visited by many different families or groups of friends, and is meant for all different age groups, be it you’re a college kid or grown adult,” Hanson said. “It’s that flip of the switch everybody is waiting for. It’s almost like saying ‘okay, the switch is
flipped and now let the holidays begin!’”