Circle of Lights 2013: Where Will You Be when the Switch is Flipped?

It’s that time of year again, when Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis comes to life with an unmistakable sparkle— it’s pretty hard to miss a 242-ft tall Christmas tree, after all!

circle-of-lights celebration on monument circle in downtown indianapolis

The Circle of Lights® happens on each year on the first Friday following Thanksgiving, and for 51 years and counting, it remains one of the city’s most cherished holiday traditions.

Close to 100,000 spectators come each year to witness the high point of the ceremony in which one very lucky child, chosen from a coloring contest, helps “flip the switch” with Santa and the Mayor around 7:45 p.m. This year’s winner is Kimberly Montes de Oca, a 10-year-old fifth-grade student at Southport Elementary in Indianapolis.


Festivities begin at 6 p.m., and people usually start arriving around 5pm. Leading up to the main event, a string of live performances will take place on the central stage, including those by Indianapolis native Sandi Patty and The von Trapp Family singers.

In addition, several other entertainers chosen from statewide auditions will perform, including a local Indianapolis duet, Tara Rochford and Ryan Smith; a tap dancing group from Muncie called Soul to Sole; Greenwood soloist Macey Estes; Indianapolis/Bloomington soloist Ross Rebennack, and Mount Pleasant Christian Church, from Greenwood, which was chosen as the house band.


The symbolic Christmas “tree” is quite a spectacle to behold, with its 4,784 colored lights and 52 strands of garland. So much so, in fact, that Travelocity calls it one of five “must-see Christmas trees” in the country.

But putting together an event of this scale takes preparation. “We’ve been planning for the Circle of Lights® since about July. And we do that every year, because it is one of Central Indiana’s biggest events that we put on, especially during the Holidays,” says Senior Director of Communications for Indianapolis Downtown Inc., Jennifer Hanson.

For each of the past 51 years, volunteer electricians from the IBW481 union of electrical workers begin stringing up the enormous ropes of light that are suspended from near the top of the Monument to its base. They installed this year’s lights in early November.


Surrounded the decorated monument are 26 larger-than-life decorations, including 26 toy soldiers and sailors and 26 peppermint sticks.

The end result is one of the most captivating holiday spectacles in the nation, one which draws millions of sightseers to the Circle as it stays lit through Jan. 11 of the New Year.

Where will you be when the switch is flipped?