Circle of Lights® – IBEW’s Craft At Its Finest
Every year on the day after Thanksgiving Downtown Indianapolis comes alive with the glow of festive holiday lights as the Soldiers and Sailors Monument is transformed into a 242-foot Christmas tree, featuring 4,784 lights on 52 garland strands. Truly the centerpiece of Indianapolis’ holiday season and coined the Circle of Lights® event.
Per Julia Saltsgaver, Executive Director of Quality Connection, the gentlemen of IBEW 481 have been on the ground since the first tree lighting in 1962 and now the guys and gals of IBEW 481 every year since. The workers look forward to the event every year, and their teamwork has been bringing it all to life for 52 years now. “It’s the best partnership I have ever witnessed and truly represents the skill and expertise of the organization involved,” said Saltsgaver.
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument tree is rich in history. Originally the tree lighting took place on the first Saturday of December, but over time was moved to the day after Thanksgiving. The inspiration for the event came at the close of WWII in 1945, when civic leaders agreed that the monument should never be dark again. Throughout the war the monument had been darkened due to threat of bombing raids and rationing of everything, even electricity. After the war, civic leaders desired for it to stand during the holiday season as a sign of peace and brotherhood. It took civic leaders 17 years of planning, research and work to bring to life the 52 lighted garland strands you see to this day.
“Circle of Lights truly represents IBEW’s craft at its finest,” said Saltsgaver. “On the day after Thanksgiving over 100,000 individuals gather on Monument Circle to enjoy the event. It’s safe, structurally sound and represents the history and structural need of the monument beautifully; and how wonderful that it is highlighted all season long in national camera spots for televised sporting events.” It is truly something to be proud of in our Hoosier state.
IBEW Local 481 has been a part of the central Indiana skyline for over one hundred years. Their handy work has not only touched Monument Circle, but Indiana hot spots such as the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Circle Center Mall, the One America building (AUL) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to name a few. Quality Connection is an elite group of 80 electrical contractors with more than 2400 of the best trained electrical workers.
For the Circle of Lights event, over 200 union electricians and dozens of local electrical contractors work side by side throughout the month of November to check red, green, blue, yellow and white bulbs and string over 4000 festive holiday lights skyward. Great care is taken as each lighted garland is slowly hoisted, guided and secured into place. For so many of the electricians it’s an Indiana tradition they wouldn’t miss.
The hard work of these fine Indiana men and women of the Contractors of Quality Connection and Electrical Workers of IBEW 481 brings such joy to so many throughout Indiana, both residents and visitors to our beautiful Downtown Indianapolis. Katy Mann of Indy with Kids visits with her family each year to gaze at the festively transformed monument. “Our family loves to visit the Circle of Lights tree several times throughout the season. It creates the perfect gathering place for the whole community to come together, sit around, enjoy a cup of hot cocoa, meet new people and enjoy the sights and sounds of winter in Downtown Indianapolis,” said Mann.
This year’s Circle of Lights event takes place on November 28th beginning at 6 p.m., with tree lighting taking place around 7:50p.m. It’s a spectacular Indianapolis holiday display worthy of a visit. You’ll be joining generations of Indy families as they kick-off their Christmas season with this must-do Indiana tradition. The event always includes several musical acts, vendors and special features. This year the 2014 winner of The Voice, Josh Kaufman, an Indianapolis native, will be on stage along with performers from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s IPL Yuletide Celebration. And one of our most favorite features, each year a lucky local child is chosen via a coloring contest to help “flip the switch” alongside Santa and the Indianapolis Mayor.
You won’t want to miss all the holiday fun on the circle in Downtown Indianapolis. And if you happen to run into a fine electrician from the Contractors of Quality Connection or IBEW Local 481, be sure to give them a high five and a big thank-you.
Photo credits: Indy with Kids; Quality Connection