By Heather Lusk
It was 15 years ago when Johnny Vargo, owner of Rush on Main, first experienced Christmas in the Village.
“Honestly, that’s what brought us to Zionsville,” he said. “It was like a scene from a movie.”
When he and his wife saw snow falling on businesses, decorations in the shops and a Christmas tree in the middle of Main Street, they changed their plans to build a house elsewhere and instead found a home in Zionsville.
Drawing new people into the Village is a goal of the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce committee that organizes the Christmas in the Village events. The month of festivities also serves as a thank you to residents, according to Lesley Hunt, owner of Lesley Jane, who leads the committee.
Although several committee members like Hunt have been involved for many years, all of the Chamber of Commerce staff are newcomers.
“We’re learning as we go. We’re enjoying the process as we go,” said Tracy Coussnes, the chamber’s event coordinator. “You don’t reinvent Christmas. We’re just adding Zionsville’s stamp to it.”
The committee tries to introduce new elements each year to build on what has been successful in the past.
“You want it to stay fresh,” said Erica Carpenter, owner of Five Thirty Home.
Carpenter experienced Christmas in the Village for the first time after opening her Main Street shop five years ago.
“This was the cutest thing ever,” said Carpenter, who soon became active with the committee and diving into Christmas in the Village details.
Those details make the month of events challenging each year, according to Carpenter. Among the challenges is finding enough volunteers to ensure everything runs smoothly.
“The thing that you learn doing this is that you have to be flexible, because things will happen,” Hunt said.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
Every weekend, something different for kids is incorporated into the festivities.
“The whole idea behind everything is to make this a family event, to keep that hometown, homespun feel to everything we do,” Hunt said.
Throughout the month, families can take free horse-drawn wagon rides through the Village.
On Dec. 3 and 17, Five Thirty Home will sponsor rock painting. Hidden rocks that are found can be posted to the Zionsville Rocks and Boone County Rocks Facebook pages. A special Christmas in the Village rock will be hidden in mid-December. The finder will receive special prizes.
Last year’s popular Elf Scavenger Hunt returns Dec. 9, starting in Boone Village. Kids search for clues throughout the downtown area to win prizes at stops along the way. Families can take a break to decorate cookies at zWORKS, thanks to a donation by Zionsville United Methodist Church.
NOT JUST FOR KIDS
Carpenter’s favorite event is Ladies Night Dec. 7, when women can catch up with girlfriends and share shopping ideas. “It’s a good opportunity to start to make a mental list or pen-and-paper list,” Carpenter said.
During the Christmas Crawl Dec. 14, participating shops and restaurants will provide signature food and drinks during the evening, with karaoke starting at 9 p.m. at Rush on Main.
“It gives everyone a night a little bit different for Zionsville,” Vargo said. “We just hope that everyone jumps everywhere.”
On Dec. 21, free gift wrapping will be provided by zWORKS members as a team-building project for the coworking space.
“As a startup, you don’t have that corporate culture yet and those service opportunities,” zWORKS Executive Director Kate Swanson said.
Because of his heavy workload before the big day, Santa will be unavailable during the weekend, but Three Dog Bakery will sponsor a reindeer food station so that children can prepare something special for the big guy’s herd.
Weekend parking will b easier all month with the Shopping Shuttle between Lions Park, SullivanMunce Cultural Center, Main Street and Boone Village. The trolly that has transferred passengers for several years is in need of repair, so Zionsville United Methodist Church will provide a bus to help transport shoppers.
Many retailers host their own events during the month, and many will have goods only available in December. Inga’s Popcorn offers special flavors like Snowstorm and Christmas Cookie available at the new Cedar Street location. Patrons can purchase large portions of Cobblestone’s side dishes.
CV Art and Frame has annually hosted a Thomas Kincaid Disney event but this year will bring in a special legacy artist formerly with Disney Studios to offer lessons on drawing characters Dec. 1 to 3. Other events and opportunities are being updated on the chamber’s website at zionsvillechamber.org/events.
CHRISTMAS IN THE VILLAGE EVENTS
- Dec. 2 – ZCHS Carol of Homes
- Dec. 7 – Ladies Night in Village shops
- Dec. 8 – 10 – Tiny Wonderland at Lions Park
- Dec. 9 – Elf Scavenger Hunt throughout Zionsville
- Dec. 14 – Christmas Crawl in Village shops
- Dec. 21 – Last Dash