Indianapolis Local and Contractors Build Community with Christmas Lights
November 8, 2013
As millions of Christmas and holiday season displays take shape across the nation, picking the best is surely a difficult task. But some shine brightest.
“Circle of Lights,” the display decorating the 284-foot-tall Soldiers and Sailors Monument in downtown Indianapolis, is one of those exhibits, named the nation’s best man-made Christmas tree byTravelocity.
For the last 10 years, “Circle of Lights,” has been primarily sponsored by Local 481 and 100 signatory electrical contractors in the Quality Connection.
The monument is expected to draw 100,000 visitors to its first illumination on Nov. 29. Hundreds of thousands more visitors will follow before the lights on the tree, which also honors U.S. military veterans, come down on Jan. 11.
On Nov. 9, 200 union volunteers installed nearly 5,000 lights, 52 garland strands and more than 50 life-sized figures including sailors, toy soldiers and peppermint sticks. Before they finished, they had installed six miles of electrical wire.Union volunteers have contributed to the monument’s lighting for all 51 years, says Business Manager Sean Seyforth, a second-generation member who once accompanied his father as he volunteered his time on the lighting project.
“The tradition has gone from one generation to the next and now is recognized as the official start of the holiday season for all Indianapolis,” says Seyforth.
Union retirees inspected all lights, wires and sockets in October and replaced fuses to make sure the lighting proceeds safely and smoothly.
Local 481 underscores its commitment to the surrounding community by including holiday electrical safety tips on the event’s frequently-visited official Web site.
“The Indianapolis celebration is a superb example of community engagement,” says International President Edwin D. Hill. “The goodwill that is reaped by Local 481 and our signatory contractors can never be overestimated as generations of citizens in Indianapolis see the IBEW for what we are, hard-working neighbors who want the best for our entire community.”
“Circle of Lights” has developed into an eight-hour extravaganza, with the Quality Connection gaining sponsors from local TV and print media, the state’s college savings plan and Indianapolis Downtown, the city’s promotional agency. No taxpayer dollars are used for the lighting.
Two thousand children will participate in a coloring contest with the winner helping to flip the switch on the tree.
Before Santa’s arrival, this year’s event will feature the Von Trapp Family Singers, a kid’s zone featuring fire eaters, jugglers and magicians.
“Circle of Lights” will also pay tribute to troops serving outside the country with the USO of Indiana recording videos during the illumination celebration, entitled, “Messages from the Home Front,” to send to troops around the world.
Indianapolis is second only to Washington, D.C., in its number of monuments and memorials commemorating veterans. Five differently-colored bulbs in the exhibit represent each branch of the U.S. military.