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Greenwood gets festivities rolling

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The wreaths, bows and snowmen decorations have been unpacked.

Strings of lights have been untangled and strung from trees, buildings and light posts. Thousands of bulbs have been checked and rechecked.

Now it’s time to flip the switch.

Puppet shows, parades and, of course, visits from Santa will highlight this year’s holiday events. Shoppers can take care of the Christmas lists with handmade Indiana goods in Franklin or sing carols among the luminarias in downtown Edinburgh.

The season in Johnson County starts early with the annual Greenwood-A-Glow celebration, scheduled for today. Residents will gather around the massive blue spruce at Madison Avenue and Main Street, waiting for Mayor Mark Myers to join Santa Claus in turning on thousands of lights.

“The choir will be singing, there will be hot chocolate and cookies, while everyone waits for Santa to show up,” said Rosemary Cunningham, president of the Old Town Greenwood Association. “He’s the guy in red. He’s the one everyone wants to see.”

Greenwood has scheduled its holiday lighting the weekend before Thanksgiving for years now, Cunningham said. With so much else going on during the Christmas season, organizers didn’t want the lighting to get lost in the shuffle.

Plus, even being conducted a month before Dec. 25, residents are still excited and ready to start their celebrating, and this early weekend seems to work, Cunningham said.

“They’re charged up and getting ready for Christmas already,” she said. “Once you get into December, you have only three weekends available, and it’s so overloaded that you can’t do everything you want to.”

Close to 15,000 lights make up the Greenwood displays, said Rob Taggart, director of parks for Greenwood. Workers have spent the past weeks stringing colored bulbs around tree trunks, through bushes and outlining gazebos in most of the downtown parks.

In addition, they hung about 25 wreaths from utility poles throughout the downtown.

Before any kind of decorating, the workers spent hours sorting through the stored strings of lights, checking to make sure each bulb worked, Taggart said.

Besides the lighting ceremony itself, organizers have built a full day of activities into Greenwood-A-Glow.

New this year will be a series of performances by Peewinkle’s Puppet Studio. The Indianapolis ensemble, led by local puppeteers Peggy Melchior, Debbi White and Heidi Shackleford, will share the stories of characters such as Mozart and Ludwilla the mischievous mice and Rufus the Magic Elf.

The theater will do four shows at the Greenwood Public Library throughout the afternoon.

Organizers also have lined up an appearance by Santa’s reindeer. Residents can take photos of the animals, provided by Silly Safaris of Indianapolis.

“We’ve already had a couple of kids ask which of the reindeer it will be, if it’s going to be Rudolph and if they will be able to see his nose,” Cunningham said. “We thought this would be something fun and different.”

Silly Safaris has been offering reindeer shows to show how the Arctic creatures live. A trained handler dressed as an elf will allow people to get up close to Misfit, a rare spotted reindeer, and get their pictures taken together.

“It won’t be a formal presentation. We’ll be there as people bounce around. They can get right up to them, hug them, touch them and get their pictures taken,” said “Jingle” John Cusson, president of Silly Safaris.

As in years past, carriage rides will be offered around downtown Greenwood, and children will have the opportunity to have their photos taken with Santa, Cunningham said.

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