LIGHTING UP THE CIRCLE FOR 50 YEARS

It is that time of year again in Indianapolis.

It is time to celebrate the official beginning of the holiday season by the lighting of the Christmas tree located on Monument Circle downtown and this year marks the 50th anniversary of the celebration.  And even though this is little different than our usual blogs, we thought it might be fun to list a few fun facts about the tree that might just surprise you.

  1. There are 6 miles of electrical wire and 2 miles of garland used.
  2. There are 52 strands of lights with 4,784 colored bulbs.
  3. The colors of the bulbs represent the different military branches (green for Army, clear for Air Force, blue for Navy, yellow for Coast Guard, and red for the Marines)
  4. There are 26 toy sailors and soldiers and 26 peppermint sticks surrounding the tree.
  5. It takes 200 volunteers about 6 hours to hang the lights.
  6. The idea of decorating the circle was first proposed in 1945.
  7. Travelocity named the circle one of top five “must see” holiday decorations in 2011.
  8. The tree is 284 feet tall (only 21 feet shorter then the Statue of Liberty).
  9. The celebration started as a simple celebration for Indianapolis residents but has grown to an hour long televised special.
  10. The switch to turn on the lights is always held on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
  11. The ceremony is free and includes 2 hours of live entertainment.
  12. The performers are auditioned throughout the state.
  13. The ceremony draws 100,000 people annually.
  14. In 50 years, the lighting ceremony has never been delayed even for poor weather.
  15. In 2009, the ceremony was viewed through satellite connections to the troops in Afghanistan.
  16. The switch to light the monument is always flipped by a child 12 years old or younger and is chosen thru a coloring contest.
  17. Thousands of children enter the contest every year.
  18. In honor of the 50th anniversary, the Circle of Lights sponsored an essay contest with $1000 college savings accounts to be awarded.
  19. The bronze figure atop the monument is named “Victory” and faces south to welcome soldiers returning from battle.
  20. The monument took over 12 years to construct.
  21. The monument cost over $600,000 to construct.  If built today, it would cost over $500 million.
  22. The commemorate the 50th anniversary, a time capsule containing a bulb from the tree, a DVD of the show and the winning essay and coloring will be sealed and stored at the Indiana History Center.
  23. “Victory” was removed for the first time in 118 years in 2011 for repairs.
  24. The Circle of Lights is presented by contractors and electrical workers of IBEW local 481 as a gift to the city and will always be free of charge.

Whether you are 5 years old or remember the events from 50 years ago, you are never too young or too old to go downtown, grab a cup of hot chocolate and visit the “worlds largest Christmas tree.”  You won’t be disappointed.

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