Keeping spirits bright during Circle of Lights

This week, Janet Hommel Mangas turns her column over to her daughter, Aly Mangas.

A love letter to anyone who has ever attended Circle of Lights:

For the past five years, I’ve been an intern with Downtown Indy to a stage assistant/manager with Victory Sun PR for Indy’s signature holiday event, Circle of Lights.

Maybe someday I’ll write a “tell-all” when I’m in my 70s and they open up the 50-year time capsule. If Spotify is still around I’ll share songs I wish people would audition with, cue Destiny’s Child “8 Days of Christmas.” (Just kidding, and full disclosure — I don’t get to pick the acts.) I’ll share my nightmares of being the girl that almost ruined Christmas in Indy and the year I had all of the old light bulbs in my living room making ornaments for the 50th anniversary.

But most of all, I’ll always be grateful for the magic of being a small piece of Circle of Lights.

I’m sure you have your traditions for Circle of Lights and your memories. And that’s what I love. Maybe you’ve auditioned or performed (shout-out to all the talented Johnson County folk.) Maybe you go to your favorite restaurant with friends or family and then head downtown or go to the Pacers game after.

That’s what truly lights up Indy — tradition. And for two hours, the only thing that matters is cuddling in with 100,000 friendly Hoosiers to welcome Santa and light up the monument. And we’ve been doing that for 55 years. You make that happen.

Things have changed and will continue to change, but the “Tallest Tree in the World” still illuminates downtown. Your traditions keep it bright. Whether it’s your baby’s first Circle of Lights, you got engaged with the tree in the background, or it’s the tradition that you’ve got your family all together.

We can say that 4,784 lights and 52 garland strands light up Indy, but it’s your heart and traditions that make it electric.

Thank you for being a steward of this beloved event. Thank you for keeping the traditions going.

Love, Aly

P.S. If you want a truly magical moment there’s a part of the night, usually about 10 p.m. — when the crowds have dispersed and the wind whistles through the Circle making the garlands sway. It’s a spiritual moment, a moment of connection to the past — Christmas is here, and everything is going to be OK.

Share your holiday Circle of Lights traditions at keeping