Partners and History
The Quality Connection and IBEW 481 announced today their continued partnership to present Central Indiana’s longest-standing free public event, Circle of Lights®.
Hoosiers recognize the holiday lighting that takes place each year the day after Thanksgiving as the event that kicks off the holiday season before a crowd of 100,000 people and a television audience of 50,000 households. Most residents have been to the event, watched it on television or come Downtown during the holiday season to enjoy the festive display in its 50 years of existence. Travelocity named the Circle of Lights® one of the top five “must-see Christmas trees” in the nation in 2011.
“Circle of Lights has played an important part of Hoosier holiday traditions for decades and continues to strengthen the spirit of our community,” said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. “This year, on its 50th anniversary, I hope everyone in Indianapolis takes time to visit Downtown to check out these special festivities.”
The concept of holiday decor on the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument was first suggested in 1945 as a celebration of peace and brotherhood. World War II had just ended, Christmas was approaching and a local architect named Edwarrd D. Pierre suggested decorating and lighting the Monument as a symbol of peace. Decor was confined to the lower parts of the Monument until 1962.
In 1962, Circle of Lights® debuted as the “World’s Largest Christmas Tree” with 52 garland strands full of multi-color lights strung from the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Conventional scenes and holiday pieces have been used around the base throughout the past 50 years. A few changes and improvements have occurred along the way as well. Updated decor and a new name were introduced in 1999 after significant input from Central Indiana and throughout the nation. A simple program with a few speakers in 1962 has since evolved into an hour-long television show today with 100,000 people on-site to say they saw the lights go on.
“Quality Connection and IBEW 481 should be commended for their 50-year commitment to this longstanding, free community tradition,” said Julia Watson, vice president of marketing and communications for Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. “It is THE event that launches the holiday season. We are honored to offer this celebration to Central Indiana and couldn’t do it without the support of our partners.”
Many organizations and individuals have played a part to design, fabricate, install and implement the decor and celebration. Initially, a group known as the Indianapolis Christmas Committee and later named Indianapolis Holidays Committee was joined by the Indianapolis Merchants Association. The goal was to establish a holiday symbol of peace, yet protect the mission, structure and integrity of the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument. In 1994 the responsibility transitioned from the Indianapolis Holidays Committee to the newly formed Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.
Seven mayors and nine governors have served our city and state over the past 50 years. However, only one organization has taken part each year in this holiday event since 1962. The IBEW 481 union electricians have always been the group on the ground to install and remove the decor. IBEW 481 was first the labor crew for the electrical contractor who managed the initial development and then became the labor leader that maintains, stores, installs and removes the decor annually. In 2004, IBEW 481 and its labor-management partnership, The Quality Connection, expanded their role to become the presenting partners of Circle of Lights® presented by the Contractors of Quality Connection and Electrical Workers of IBEW 481.