Zionsville’s Christmas in the Village
Writer // Janelle Morrison Photography // Zionsville Chamber of Commerce
Regarded as the literary titan of the Victorian age, Charles Dickens wrote one of his most celebrated works, “A Christmas Carol,” without having any inkling that this novel would be as relevant today as it was more than a century ago. The themes of “A Christmas Carol” are timeless in the sense that what Dickens wrote about greed, indifference, inhumanity and unconditional love are themes that are still familiar in the 21st century. Perhaps what Dickens seems to be reminding us of is the importance of taking notice of the lives around us and having a sense of community.
As the members of the Zionsville planning committee have already been working feverishly to ensure a month-long celebration of holiday happenings that would make Norman Rockwell ecstatic, we sat down with Tracy Phillips, former executive director for the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce, to discuss what makes Zionsville’s Christmas in the Village so endearing to not only the visitors but to the town as a whole and why, this year more than ever, it is so important to keep the ideals of community and an “authentic” Christmas experience at the forefront of this holiday season’s celebrations.
Phillips is overseeing her last Christmas in the Village as a staff member of the Chamber this year but is as committed as ever to helping it be the best season for residents, businesses and guests alike. She pointed out that amidst all of the change, tragedies, joy and sorrow endured by the community over the course of time, residents of the town have remained steadfast in coming together as a community, especially during the holidays, and that spirit is shining more brightly than ever.
“When there is change in the world and so many disruptive things that can be seen and shared on social or electronic media, what helps to calm the soul is tradition. Zionsville is rich in traditions. People here know that they can come out to experience Christmas in the Village and see someone they know across the street from their neighborhood or school or their place of work or worship, and all together, they can celebrate what is good in the world.”
Phillips emphasized that the Chamber’s goal has been to create an authentic Christmas in the Village by having horse-drawn wagon rides, a traditional trolley, a Christmas parade (this year’s theme is “Let it Snow”) and visits with Santa at his house on the corner of Main and Cedar Streets, right down to this year’s live street décor.
“The brand of Zionsville is tradition and history,” Phillips stated. “That is why you see the traditional trolley and horse-drawn wagons along with a parade that is made up of members of the community. You will also see that in the décor of the Village down to the wreaths that will be on the light poles in front of all of our stores, restaurants and businesses. They will be hand-decorated by merchants in Zionsville and volunteers. With the assistance of the Street Department, the live evergreen wreaths with plaid tartan bows will be installed before Thanksgiving. The wreaths will help give an aura of a traditional Christmas in Zionsville.”
The Chamber is encouraging people to park at either Boone Village or at Lions Club Park and take the trolley to Main Street.
“We are also encouraging people on the day of the parade to come out early and frequent the shops before and after the parade,” Phillips suggested. “They can get a bite to eat before the parade, and after the parade, do some more shopping and have dinner – make an entire day out of it. The trolley will start picking people up at 4 p.m. that day and go until 8 p.m.”
A new twist on a Christmas in the Village tradition is the new and expanded scavenger hunt.
“We’ve changed it up this year,” Phillips enthused. “In past years, we’ve had the Elf Scavenger Hunt. This year, we are having a ‘Snowflake Seek-and-Find.’ This will allow more merchants and businesses to participate. We have businesses and restaurants participating throughout the Village and Boone Village. At these stops, young people can get a little treat or snack if they find the snowflake that is hidden in the establishment.”
Phillips spoke about this being a time to take pause and enjoy the wonderment of the season with family and friends. Take a “momentary” step back into a time when life was a little less hectic and enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of the season together.
“If the Chamber and the businesses that we represent can be a part of and help create that experience, then we have fulfilled our goal of contributing to a quality of life in Zionsville that makes it special,” Phillips said. “When we say, ‘Be authentic,’ we mean keep Christmas in the Village real. The traditions of Zionsville are authentic; they are real. The sense of community is authentic; it is real. And people caring about one other is what Zionsville does best.”
For a detailed list of Christmas in the Village events and available sponsorships and volunteer opportunities, please visit the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce’s website at zionsvillechamber.org.