It has been several years since we headed downtown to check out the huge “Christmas tree” and decorations on Monument Circle, Indianapolis. We usually just drive around the circle, take in the sights and then move on. I am not a fan of the one way streets, the crowds and the parking situations so driving through is enough for me. But since it was 60 degrees outside, on this December 1st, and I wanted to gather information for my readers I grabbed my camera and we headed downtown for an adventure.
We did have trouble finding a parking spot and the closer you got to the Circle the worse the traffic was but we finally found an empty parking meter. Since it was after 9:00 p.m. we didn’t have to pay so that was nice.
The “tree” was just as wonderful as I remembered it but I don’t know that it was worth parking and walking around the monument. There really wasn’t a lot there. Of course there was the tree, the large toy soldiers and sailors that stood along the edge of the monument and the beautiful Nativity scene in front of Christ Church Cathedral. I believe I would have enjoyed it just as much from my car window.
I did find two reasons that you might want to get out of the car and walk around the Circle: The Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop and The Chocolate Café – The South Bend Chocolate Company. Both shops were open late on Saturday evening and had plenty of tasty treats to offer.
Since I like to include a little fun learning in my activities I wanted to share a few interesting facts I found in an article by Julie Sickel, a writer with the Indianapolis Star. The title of the article is “Here are 50 Facts Relating to the Long-Running Holiday Tradition”. I am going to list a few of my favorite facts but you should read the article to find the rest of them.
1. More than six miles of electrical wire and more than two miles of garland are used for the Circle of Lights.
2. There are 52 strands with 4,784 colored lights strung from the top of the monument to its base.
3. The colors of the bulbs represent different branches of the U.S. military: green for the Army, clear for the Air Force, blue for the Navy, yellow for the Coast Guard and red for the Marines.
4. There are 26 12-foot-tall toy soldiers and sailors and 26 10-foot-tall peppermint sticks surrounding the Circle. (This would be a great counting opportunity for your kids)
5. The ceremony’s most revered annual guest is Santa Claus, who arrives after the lights are switched on.
6. The switch to light the Monument is flipped by a child 12 or younger.
7. For more than two decades, the lucky child has been chosen through a coloring contest.
8. At 284 feet tall, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument is about 21 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty and 16 feet short of a football field.
9. The Soldiers and Sailors Monument is the largest in the nation to be dedicated to the common soldier.
10. The 38-foot-tall bronze figure atop the statue is named “Victory” but also is called “Miss Indiana” by Hoosiers. She faces south to welcome soldiers returning from battle.
Here is a fun observation my daughter made when she was about 10 years old and I still see it every time we go to see the Christmas lights. (I’m going to give you some hints before I tell you what we actually saw. I want to give you a chance to see if you see the same thing we did.)
- As we drove towards the Circle my daughter kept saying that she saw a certain character from the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer television special created by Rankin/Bass. I looked all around and couldn’t find it. I thought it was a character at the foot of the tree or in a store window. As it turns out, it was an illusion created by looking at the monument through the lights. Take a look at the picture below and see if you can figure out what character we see. Leave a comment as to who you think it is. Once you have made your guess you can click on the picture to see who the character is that we see.
If you don’t see what we saw, then click on the picture below. I have created an overlay of the character on the portion of the monument that we saw it. See if that helps you see it when you look back at the Monument picture.
So can you see him too or do my daughter and I just have vivid imaginations? If you take a drive downtown to look at the lights please leave a comment and let me know if you saw him. We usually see him as we are driving towards the Circle not once we are really close to it. Have fun enjoying the sights, lights and fun this holiday season.
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