City planning to make Westfield in Lights bigger and better
Candice Hughes, special events coordinator for the City of Westfield, has a daunting task. She was hired three months ago and, while she has never attended, Hughes is charged with making the Dec. 6 Westfield in Lights the best it has ever been.
“My background is in event planning – I’ve worked the Kentucky Derby, parades and weddings,” she said. “It’s a citywide event in four to five blocks. It’s a little different for me.”
To prepare, Hughes said researched previous events and talked with stakeholders.
“My No. 1 priority was to make a list of complaints and try to fix every single one of them,” she said. “I could not get the weather one, I tried.”
This is the second year the city is in charge of hosting the event and with a new organizer a few changes were in order, including a shift in time – to 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.
“It’s all based on the tree lighting,” Hughes said. “Everyone leaves shortly after the tree lighting is over, but there are still events going on.”
The goal of the event remains the same – providing something fun to do in Westfield and establishing that sense of place in downtown.
“It’s very important for our community to have one event they can be proud of,” said Erin Murphy, city spokeswoman. “It’s our event and we are constantly connecting with residents on a daily basis. As Westfield grows, the bigger this event will, too, especially with Grand Junction.”
Hughes said the event will include five food trucks offering Chinese food, rib eyes, lobster rolls, junk food and cupcakes. The food trucks will be in the area around the parking lot of City Hall.
“The area around will be more family friendly,” she said. “More intimate with picnic tables, heaters, trash cans and lights.”
Before helping Mayor Andy Cook turn on the lights, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be hearing Christmas requests from eager children at the Parks Programming Facility, 330 E. Main St. Hughes said the facility, which includes the Gingerbread House contest, has been redesigned and will have a team of elves entertaining families in line.
New this year is a train that will transport attendees from Penn Street to meet Santa and back. Hughes said the train, “similar to a little kiddie rollercoaster,” can hold two people including adults per cart and fits 19 people per trip.
“It is different,” Hughes said. “I feel like there is more to do and it’s more seamless, cohesive. It’s continuing to grow and get better each year.”
Some of the other highlights of this year’s event include a live reindeer (5 to 7 p.m.) and Silly Safari show, live nativity by the Westfield Friends Church, live entertainment and Frosty the Snowman available at Imagine Church’s photo booth inside City Hall.
“We’re super blessed. We’ve had a lot of volunteers and have a need for one or two key spots left. We’ve had an enormous amount of people, groups that continually call us and offer to help,” Hughes said, adding those interested in volunteering may call 804-3184.
Instead of using the wooden stage next to the tree, Westfield again 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.
“For entertainment, we have Westfield High School everything,” Hughes said.
While there is no more marketplace, the Westfield in Lights booth will be selling hot chocolate in a commemorative cup for $5; refills will be $2. Hughes said the booth also is selling candy cane glow sticks, bracelets and necklaces for $1 and glow glasses and 3D glasses that turn Christmas lights into reindeer or snowmen for $2.
“We’re selling the neatest things. Every kid is going to want one,” Parks Director Melody Jones said, adding all proceeds go into next year’s Westfield in Lights fund.
There will not be any luminaries this year, but Hughes said downtown will have more lighting for gathering areas. The event will have more police officers present and volunteers will hand out maps and schedules of activities. Traffic also will not be an issue as Union, Penn and Cherry streets will be barricaded. Hughes said parking is available on side streets and at Westfield High School.
Hughes said following any event she is focused on evaluations to constantly make things better.
“The carriage rides were a huge disappointment (last year),” she said. “This year we are having a one-mile ride for the same amount of money. It’s just a way of saying, ‘whoops, we’re sorry.’ … We’ll have four, five or six carriages next year.”
Starting Dec. 6 with Westfield in Lights, the Westfield Business Lighting competition will begin. Hughes said participating businesses will have signs in the window. Voting is available on the Westfield in Lights website and Facebook page through Dec. 20.
“The winning business will receive a plaque and be the face of the Westfield in Lights website for an entire year,” Hughes said.
Schedule of events
City Hall (indoors), 130 Penn St.
3:30 to 7:30 p.m. – Photo booth with Frosty the Snowman
City Hall east lawn
5 to 7 p.m. – Live reindeer
City Hall parking lot
3:30 to 7:30 p.m. – Food trucks and Westfield in Lights hot chocolate booth
Hadley Park, 100 W. Main St.
3:30 to 7:30 p.m. – Live Nativity
3:30 to 7 p.m. – Santa Express Train
3:30 to 7:30 p.m. – Santa’s Workshop
Parks Programming Facility, 330 E. Main St.
3:45 to 6:45 p.m. – Pictures with Santa and Gingerbread House display
3:40 to 4 p.m. – St. Maria Goretti Church Children’s Choir
4:10 to 4:30 p.m. – Cross Road Church Band
4:40 to 5 p.m. – New Joy Church
5:10 to 5:30 p.m. – WHS Band Christmas Ensemble
5:40 to 6 p.m. – Oak Trace Elementary School Choir
6:10 to 6:30 p.m. – Silly Safari Reindeer Reserve
6:40 to 6:50 p.m. – Mayor’s welcome
6:50 to 6:55 p.m. – Mayor and special guests: WHS band, football team and cheerleaders
7 p.m. – Tree lighting