City planning to make Westfield in Lights bigger and better
Amanda Jackson, special events coordinator for the City of Westfield, has a daunting task. While she was hired earlier this year and has never attended Westfield in Lights, Jackson is charged with making Dec. 7’s event the best it has ever been.
“I’ve talked with many people and the Downtown Westfield Association had a lot of event photos,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting the community involved with performances that bring everybody together. What better reason to come downtown? This is an opportunity to do so.”
This year is also the first time the city is in charge of hosting the event and a few changes were in order.
“We’ve been talking with people who attended and asking what they really enjoyed and what didn’t work so well,” Parks Director Melody Jones said.
The goal of the event remains the same – providing something fun to do in Westfield and establishing that sense of place in downtown.
“I personally think it’s all about coming together during the holiday season. Grand Park has set the bar high. Grand Junction is something close to my heart. It will show what the parks department is capable of,” Jones said. “We want people to start thinking about downtown as the heart of the community, a place to make connections. Always have something to do and friends to meet there – a catalyst for community activities.”
Organizers said this year’s attractions are at more convenient locations.
“We’re expanding upon the existing things taking place and using our Main Street facility,” Jones said. “It’s going to be familiar for people who attended in the past.”
Organizers are also focusing on small details to build on past experiences.
“We’re adding in just a little bit to hopefully stand out a little,” Jackson said. “We’re adding the small details that might have been overlooked.”
One of the biggest changes for the event is the date. Instead of being on a Friday evening, the decision was made to shift the event to Saturday and make it a little earlier – and longer (4:30 to 8:30 p.m.).
“I think it will increase attendance,” Jones said. “It’s more convenient for people that work or volunteer to get to the event. Overall it works better for everybody.”
One item of focus was creating better lighting to make it safer to walk around to all the activities. Jones said 420 luminaries will line the streets and walkways. Traffic also will not be an issue as Union, Penn and Cherry streets will be barricaded.
“There will be no vehicle interaction. We really looked at the safety aspect of the event,” Jones said.
“We want to make it safe, fun and family friendly … the community embraces the event and feels comfortable coming out,” Jackson said.
The event begins with a parade led by Santa and Mrs. Claus via a horse-drawn carriage from the Union Street Asa Bales Park entrance. Santa will travel along Penn Street from Union Street to Cherry Street.
“We’re really hoping families come out and welcome Santa,” Jackson said.
After completing the parade and before the two help turn on the lights, the Claus’ will be hearing Christmas requests from eager children.
“Goldberg Photography will be taking pictures with Santa and putting them in commemorative frames,” Jones said.
Some of the other highlights of this year’s event include a live reindeer and Silly Safari show, live nativity by the Westfield Friends Church, six food trucks, a boutique truck, live entertainment and a marketplace, which will be selling candy cane glow sticks, bracelets, necklaces and aviator glasses, hot cocoa and glasses that turn Christmas lights into reindeer or snowmen
“We’re selling the neatest things. Every kid is going to want one,” Jones said, adding the items will range a few dollars with all proceeds going into next year’s Westfield in Lights fund.
Administrative Assistant Cindy Olson and senior citizens at Sanders Glen Retirement Community have knit red scarves for volunteers, which helps better identify those with information.
“There are lots of things to do in all areas. If you have a question you can ask them,” Jackson said. “Every aspect goes back to involving the community.”
Instead of using the wooden stage next to the tree, Westfield is borrowing Noblesville’s temporary stage, which is larger, brighter and has better sound equipment. The main stage will be located along Union Street in the area of the former farmers market.
“The entertainment is expanding both in City Hall and on the main stage. We’re highlighting performers throughout our community,” Jackson said.
The same lighting company will be used to illuminate the city tree, but this year won’t have the same look as previous ones.
“We’re doing a little bit more with the lighting,” Jones said. “It’s going to be impressive.”
Schedule of events
4:30 to 4:45 p.m.
Santa’s Parade Route: Santa arrives via horse-drawn carriage along Penn Street and then will travel from Union Street to Cherry Street.
4:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Carriage rides. Check-in is at the Asa Bales Park east entrance. Registration is required.
Food and boutique vendors at City Hall west parking area.
Live music and entertainment on the main stage on Union Street and in the City Hall Assembly Room.
Gingerbread House Display at the Parks Programming Facility, 330 E. Main St.
Santa’s Workshop at Heart and Soul Clinic, 202 Penn St.
Parks Marketplace at the Parks Programming Facility, 330 E. Main St., and Information Booth on the west side of City Hall.
Amanda Strong Food for the Needy Food Drive donations can be dropped off at the Parks Programming Facility.
4:35 to 4:55 p.m.
St. Maria Goretti Children’s Choir on the main stage.
Christ United Methodist Church Bell Choir in the City Hall Assembly Room.
5 to 8:20 p.m.
Live Nativity at Hadley Park.
5 to 8:30 p.m.
Pictures with Santa in the Parks Programming Facility, 330 E. Main St.
5:10 to 5:30 p.m.
Westfield Playhouse presents “A Christmas Carol” vignette on the main stage.
Sounds of Praise – Union Bible College Male Trio in the City Hall Assembly Room.
5:45 to 6:05 p.m.
Christ United Methodist Church Choir on the main stage.
Westfield High School Band Ensemble in the City Hall Assembly Room.
6 to 8 p.m.
Live reindeer on the lawn at Union Street and Hickory Alley.
6:15 to 6:35 p.m.
Silly Safari Reindeer Reserve on the main stage.
Westfield Playhouse presents “A Christmas Carol” vignette in the City Hall Assembly Room.
6:30 to 7:15 p.m.
Mayor Andy Cook’s welcome, announcement of Gingerbread House People’s Choice Winner, recognition of Westfield High School varsity football team and lighting of the city tree on the main stage.
7:25 to 7:45 p.m.
Victory in Praise Choir – Bethel AME Church on the main stage.
New Joy Worship Team from New Joy Lutheran Church in the City Hall Assembly Room.
8 to 8:25 p.m.
St. Maria Goretti Adult Choir on the main stage.
Imagine Church Acoustic Group in the City Hall Assembly Room.