Light Up ‘amazing,’ ‘unbelievable’
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]
Downtown Corydon was a-buzz with activity Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. and swelling at 6:45 p.m. for the lighting of the 22-foot Norway spruce tree planted at Bicentennial Park.
“It was possibly one of the biggest crowds ever in downtown Corydon, at least in the modern era,” said Gary Roberson, president of Main Street Corydon, one of several entities that hosted activities for the day. “From the time we first opened at 11 a.m. all the way through 8 p.m., the streets were crowded “I have no idea in total how many people were downtown at some point today, but I venture it had to be upwards of 10,000,” he said.
Prior to the day’s events starting, Roberson wasn’t sure want to expect.
“When we finished setting up Candy Cane Lane (that) morning about 10:15 and I headed home to warm up in front of the wood stove, there was essentially no one in downtown,” Roberson said. “I had no idea with it so cold early and clouds coming in if anyone would show up.”
However, when he and his wife, Laura, returned at 11:45 a.m., Roberson discovered “the town was already full of people and buzzing with activity and the streets were full of cars pouring into town. I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
Candy Cane Lane, sponsored by Corydon Rotary Club, had several stations of children’s crafts and games. The check-in point quickly went through 500 printed cards and exhausted some supplies used at the stations, but that didn’t seem to stop the children from having fun.
A popular attraction near the start of Candy Cane Lane were live reindeer.
Nearby, at the intersection of Capitol Avenue and Beaver Street, was the pick-up/drop-off point for the free horse-drawn wagon rides through downtown.
At the opposite end of Beaver, set up along Elm Street, were several food vendors. At times, there were several lines snaking along the street from each participating food truck. Picnic tables were set up nearby for those who wanted to sit to eat or just rest for a while.
Indoor dining was set up in the recently vacated Bistro on Chestnut restaurant. That’s where the Harrison County Parks Dept. created Santa’s Roadhouse, serving burgers, chicken sandwiches and more, and Cluckers attended to a Brewhouse for those 21 and older wanting to indulge in an alcoholic beverage.
Larry Shickles, superintendent of the parks department, said he had to purchase additional food supplies four times during Light Up.
“Saturday was unbelievable,” he said, estimating that Santa’s Roadhouse served about 500 patrons on Saturday alone.
Santa’s Roadhouse and Brewhouse opened Friday to coincide with the parks department’s Merry Country Christmas hay rides through lighted displays and inflatables along a portion of the Indian Creek Trail.
The hayrides, including a bourbon run during the last ride of each night, will continue Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the next two weeks, and Santa’s Roadhouse and Brewhouse will be open as well.
For more information and prices, visit MerryCountryChristmas.com or call 812-738-8236.
Shickles said one family, with no ties to Harrison County, came from as far as Illinois to experience the hay ride after seeing the event advertised. A family from Florida was here, too, but they were visiting relatives in the county.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a crowd like that in Cory-
don,” Shickles said.
At 4 p.m., most everyone in town lined Chestnut Street and Capitol Avenue for the parade.
“As we walked in the parade and I saw the streets packed from the curb to the stores along both Chestnut and Capitol on both sides, I was almost overcome with emotion at how successful Light Up was today,” Roberson said. “Everyone who is a part of Main Street or volunteered to help us should be very proud.”
Roberson specifically expressed appreciation to Jennie Capelle and Missi Bush-Sawtelle, board members of Main Street Cory-
don, for their efforts in pulling everything together.
“I also want to thank Eva (Bates North) for jumping in the last month and doing so much to help line up more music, find sponsors to pay for them and help put the finishing touches on a great effort,” he added.
Entertainment took place on the gazebo at Bicentennial Park, which also was converted into a Christmas Village and Marketplace.
Roberson also credited Main Street’s executive committee for “hanging in there and being willing to risk spending a lot of money, when we did not know where the money to pay it back would come from,” he said. “Without their many hours of meetings and efforts throughout the past year, there is no way we would have received the public sector support to make it to today.”
In addition to sponsorships by several businesses, the Town of Corydon financially supported the event. Employees of the town’s street department and members of its police force — both paid and volunteer officers — put in extra hours.
“There were a number of others who did a great deal to make Light Up a success, but I am not going to start naming names or I will forget someone,” Roberson said.
Shickles said guests who came into town Saturday likely saw the day’s activities as one event, “but it was actually five or six events bundled into one.”
That included the Cory-
don Christmas Extravaganza at the Harrison County Fairgrounds, the Corydon Dulcimer Society’s performance at the Corydon Christian Church – Disciples of Christ, Jean Ann Parker playing Christmas piano melodies at the Posey House, free wine tasting at Red, White & Blush, beer tasting at Holiday Liquors and ornament blowing at Zimmerman’s Art Glass.
“It all made it a bigger event,” Shickles said. “It was unique to see the collaboration going on, which included working through last-minute changes.”
He hinted that many of the same groups that worked together to put on Light Up Corydon are joining forces for the return of the once-popular Harrison County Popcorn Festival in 2022. Shickles said an announcement is expected to be made soon about the event.
Shickles attributed Saturday’s crowd to the multiple activities that were taking place and the relatively nice weather for late November.
At 6:45 p.m., attention turned to that 22-foot spruce tree with Santa and Mrs. Claus standing by it and Pam Bennett Martin turning on the lights that adorned it. The tree was planted in memory of her brother, the late Larry Bennett, who had served as Main Street Cory-
don’s board president.
The Clauses then made their way to the Wright Interpretive Center, where they listened to children’s wishes for this Christmas.
“When people work together, great things happen,” said Jim Koerber, vice president of Main Street Corydon. “This was the case for Light Up Corydon. … Saturday was an amazing day for Corydon.”