Regional Holiday Events
Area towns won’t let COVID-19
put a stop to holiday planning
Light-ups and events to put a bright spot
in these dark times
(November 2020) – One of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit is to attend one of the many area light up events or other holiday themed activities. Usually full of twinkling lights, songs of the season, mouthwatering treats and glimpses of Santa, these events seem to bring the magic of Christmas alive for every age.
Although things might seem a little different this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, many light ups are still being planned. The annual Light Up Madison will take place at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27, in downtown Madison, Ind., with the lighting of the downtown area.
November kicks off the holiday season throughout the region,
including tree lighting events in November and the Very Merry Madison Christmas Parade in early December.
Mayor Bob Courtney and Santa will officially kick off the holiday season by “illuminating the holiday lights downtown,” said Hannah Fagan, Community Relations Director for the City of Madison.
Usually a community member donates the main tree, but since large trees are already established at the Broadway Fountain where “we do more lighting, a big tree wouldn’t fit there. We have been looking at other options,” which includes more lighting at the fountain and highlighting enhancements that have been made to several downtown areas with lampposts, etc.
She said Broadway will be closed so visitors can space out more, due to COVID-19 restrictions. Fagan said she believes people have been at home for so long that they “want something to do.”
Even though events such as the annual Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes and Great Cookie Caper have been canceled, the city and VisitMadison Inc., the local tourism bureau, are holding a Christmas Decorating Contest for businesses. Contest winners will be announced during Light Up Madison, Fagen said. Cash prizes will be awarded in the categories of People’s Choice and Classic Christmas.
Another big holiday event in Madison that the community looks forward to is the Very Merry Christmas Parade, which is planned from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, weather permitting.
“We hope to have reindeer walking in the parade and six helium balloons and four cold-air balloons,” said Fagan. She said she was unsure how many floats will be in this year’s parade that will follow its usual route down Main Street, from Jefferson Street to Mill Street. City officials are still seeking sponsors for the parade, which it organizes with Madison Consolidated Schools.
She said something new this year will be the Christmas on Main Street Festival. This event will take place immediately following the parade until 2 p.m. on Dec. 5. Even though it’s in the early stages of planning, in addition to Santa, city officials hope to have carolers, pop-up vendors and live reindeer.
“The Cincinnati Circus will be in the parade and will stick around for this,” Fagen said. The circus will have stilt walkers, jugglers and a train in the parade.
A Holiday Decorating Contest will be held for residents, she said. Prizes will be given out, and visitors are welcome to drive around and look at the homes. Homes must be decorated by Dec. 1 and register to be on the map that is handed out for the tour. “All of Jefferson County (Ind.) is eligible.”
One event that will not take place in Madison this year is Caroling with Santa at the Jefferson County Public Library-Madison and Hanover branches. Staff has canceled the event due to safety precautions for COVID-19.
A Downtown Holiday Open House will be held from 5-9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13. Madison Main Street Program Executive Director Austin Sims said this event “will be the same as it has been in the past. It’s for encouraging people to shop, support the locals and come downtown all weekend.”
Billed as Main Street’s signature event, it has taken place for at least a decade, said Sims. Trolley rides will be available as visitors take advantage of special promotions, new releases of holiday items and elaborate holiday displays.
A second event that will feature local businesses will be the Small Business Saturday on Nov. 28. Shopping bags will be given out that day by the city in the parking lot next to McWhiggins Wonder Emporium, 220 W. Main St., for this event that is being organized by Super ATV to support local businesses.
Small Business Saturday will also be held the same day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in La Grange, Ky. This will be the 11th Small Business Saturday, said Sandie Fulks, executive director of the La Grange, Ky., Main Street Program, which means “it’s time to celebrate with your favorite small businesses in downtown La Grange.”
Visitors will have the chance to enter to win a $100 Main Street shopping spree, and there will be music, food and entertainment. The Main Street Program will set up a gift wrapping station and bake sale as well.
“We’re expecting a special visit from jolly old Saint Nick and Mrs. Claus from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” said Fulks.
The 35th annual Light Up La Grange is planned from 5-9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, in downtown La Grange. Festivities will actually begin that morning at the Oldham County History Center with Breakfast with the Grinch from 9-11 a.m.
Visitors to the History Center campus can enjoy a light breakfast while visiting with the Grinch, watching the movie “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and making holiday crafts. Cost is $5 per person.
Additional events throughout the day include free tours of dining cars and train displays at the Railroad Museum, located at the old train depot at 412 E. Main St., one block past the train observation tower on Main Street, said Fulks of the La Grange Main Street Program.
A live nativity, sponsored by Grace Baptist Church, is scheduled to be located at Dairy Queen. New this year, she said, will be an ice skating rink at City Place from 3-9 p.m.
For the past 40 years, Light Up Louisville has been a tradition for the thousands of residents and visitors alike. It is an event that serves as the official starting point for the holiday season in Louisville, full of excitement and entertainment for the whole family. Because this event is attended by so many, organizers are still debating the safety of the crowd and how to social distance.
At this time, festivities are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27, at Sixth and Jefferson streets. Children’s activities, sponsored by AT&T, will kickoff at that time, as will the Holiday Marketplace Vendors booths. Free train rides will run until 6 p.m., loading and unloading at Sixth and Jefferson streets. The Main Stage will open at 3 p.m. with entertainment to be announced.
The highly anticipated Lots of Lights Parade is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., beginning at Fourth and Liberty streets and ending at Seventh and Jefferson streets. This parade, which will be emceed by Jesse and MJ from 106.9 Play radio station, contains all of the elements that make a parade so exciting – lights, bands, carolers, car clubs, floats, children’s groups and civic organizations. Included with the latter will be The Mayor’s Band (Meyzeek Middle School) and the Lincoln Elementary Mayor’s Elf Squad.
Everything will culminate at 8 p.m. with the Light Up Moment as Santa arrives on the west lawn of Metro Hall with Mayor Greg Fischer to light up the town. This will be followed by free pictures with Santa at the Santa House.
Visitors can stop by the Louisville Visitor Center, located at 301 S. Fourth St., from 4-9 p.m. for fun holiday activities, including letters to Santa, giveaways and holiday treats.
At this time all events are tentatively scheduled and are subject to change or cancellation due to COVID-19 precautions. Check websites and Facebook for more details.
Visit Madison Inc. is organizing Wonderland in the Park for Dec. 11-12. This will be the third year for this event, said Katie Burress, Event Coordinator for Visit Madison Inc.
“This year, the event will consist of lights only. Typically, we have other facets to this event (Santa, amusements, etc.), but our committee has made the decision to do only lights this year to accommodate for social distancing.”
Burress said that Wonderland in the Park “is considered an all-ages event. We believe the young and young at heart will find joy in our holiday light displays this year and all that Merry Madison has to offer.” She said that Visit Madison Inc. is “so excited to be adding more and more light displays to Madison’s riverfront and offering families a memorable experience.”
This event will be advertised as “Wonderland Drive, presented by Wonderland in the Park,” and is being promoted as a driving experience, said Burress. “Should guests choose to walk the riverfront and Bicentennial Park, we strongly encourage all guests to socially distance while they are taking in the light displays.”
Despite many events being cancelled due to COVID, “we decided to have our event this year due to it being outdoors, and CDC guidelines can be easily followed. Our overall goal in having this event is to add to all the amazing holiday events and market ‘Merry Madison’ as a holiday destination.”
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