Cherished Zionsville Tradition Returns for the Holidays
Photography Provided by Amy Payne & Zionsville Chamber of Commerce
Earlier this year, when the pandemic prompted the cancellation of one event after another, one couldn’t help but wonder what would be next, especially for Christmas in the Village. The Zionsville Chamber of Commerce leaders immediately began thinking outside the box in order to revive local restaurants and shops. They launched “Night on the Bricks,” which was a huge success in the summer. When they began to look towards winter, they knew it would be necessary to make adjustments to Zionsville’s “Christmas in the Village” tradition in order to maximize safety.
“There have been a lot of spitball conversations in this office as we threw ideas out,” says Rachel Vining, event manager for the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce.
One idea that stuck was the “Inside Out Sale” in November, during which merchants along Main Street and side streets sold merchandise on the street.
“For those still a little leery about entering a shop or being inside a space with people who are not part of your own family, this was an opportunity to shop locally for the holidays and do so in an open-air setting,” Vining says.
The event also included 30 vendors that usually participate in the “Brick Street Market.”
“COVID-19 has hit everybody hard this year,” Vining says. “We are always looking for opportunities to boost our local businesses and give back, especially since our entire mission is supporting local businesses and members. This was an effective way to do that.”
Another way to help out local merchants is the “Adopt a Business” program, for which individuals or organizations choose a local business to adopt for $100.
“Think of how many times people have asked these businesses to donate something for a raffle or a silent auction,” says Allyson Gutwein, the Chamber’s executive director. “Now it’s time for us to pay back that favor and make sure they stay in business.”
Those who adopt will receive a handmade wooden ornament from A.J. Schnell Wood Works that commemorates the adoption. In lieu of the traditional holiday parade on November 28, the town revived the Victorian tradition of the “Hanging of the Greens.” Those who adopted participated in a procession down Main Street, and presented a green garland to the business they adopted. The event culminated with a tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. Additional info on the event is available on the Chamber website.
This year for Christmas in the Village, Santa will be around plenty throughout weekends in December, but kids won’t be able to sit on his lap or enter his house. Instead, the house will be shielded by a plexiglass barrier. The door will be open and kids can stand in front for a photo.
On December 5 and 6, the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce is offering free gift wrapping for anything purchased locally. Bring gifts to Sotheby’s on Main Street between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
December 10 is “Ladies Night” in Zionsville. Running from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., shops and restaurants will offer specials, giving ladies the perfect opportunity to get some holiday shopping done. On December 12 the “Snowflake Seek-and-Find” event will be replaced by a family chalk art competition, which will take place on assigned squares spaced at least 6’ apart behind the Santa House at Cedar and Main streets. The art will be judged by Palette Art Studio, and winners will receive prizes.
“We ask that folks bring their own chalk,” Vining says.
On December 17 locals can enjoy “Toasty Toddy Night” in the old PNC Bank lot. The Chamber has obtained approval to place six fire pits (distanced appropriately) around the parking lot so folks can stay warm.
“We’ll have special drinks that evening from local restaurants, and Hotel Tango will be onsite offering different varieties of toddies,” Vining says.
Gutwein says offering these fun activities is important both for business health and mental health.
“We have to find a balance and a way to safely live in the current climate that we are in,” she says. “OK, so we have to create a new tradition this year. So be it. That’s how traditions start.”
Many members of the community are thrilled that “Christmas in the Village” is still happening.
“The business owners are more excited than ever to see people’s smiling eyes,” Vining says.
For more information on “Christmas in the Village” in Zionsville, including safety protocols, visit zionsvillechamber.org.