Village Wonderland: Downtown Zionsville offers holiday experience

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By Heather Lusk

The annual Christmas in the Village Parade and Tree Lighting kicked off a month of events to celebrate the season and showcase local merchants. The parade of two dozen local organizations sprinkled with movie characters culminated with a horse-drawn wagon carrying Santa, who then lit the Main Street Christmas tree.

The event, sponsored by the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce, coincided with Small Business Saturday and drew a higher number of spectators than in previous years. Chamber Executive Director Lin Moormann said the day is well-timed after Thanksgiving and Black Friday when shoppers traditionally swarm chain stores.

The Kiwanis Club of Zionsville float, piloted by an inflatable Frosty the Snowman, participates in the annual Christmas in the Village parade Nov. 24. (Photo by Benjamin Stout)

“It’s just a much more relaxed atmosphere. I think that brings more of the Christmas spirit,” Moormann said. “It’s a nice thing to shop local.”

Moorman was hired in October. She said she is most excited to see children’s reactions to the many Christmas in the Village events.

“It’s a great environment and atmosphere,” she said. “It just puts you in the spirit of Christmas.”

The largest of the chamber-sponsored December events, Ladies Night and Christmas Crawl, take place on the first two Thursdays of this month. Family activities like Snowflake Seek and Find will take place on the weekends.

Christmas in the Village offers weekend experiences for the family, from strolling musicians to free horse-drawn carriage rides. Santa will greet visitors at the corner of Main and Cedar streets from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. until Dec. 23. Professional photographs may be purchased or families may take their own.

Crafts and activities are open to kids every Saturday at the SullivanMunce Cultural Center. A large set of animatronic elves from the defunct L.S. Ayres store will return to the museum this month. The elves were donated by SullivanMunce volunteer Ruth Pierce. Pierce and her husband collect the mid-century elves, many still in pristine working condition.

Animatronic elves were donated by SullivanMunce volunteer Ruth Pierce. Pierce and SullivanMunce intern Kaitlyn Syferd, a Lebanon High School senior, decorated the elf displays and created vignettes. (Photo by Sara Baldwin Schatz)

Village events

Dec. 6 – Ladies Night

Grab a gal pal and shop along Main Street for the annual Ladies Night shopping event and enjoy a variety of refreshments. Chamber Executive Director Lin Moormann said the event encourages women to shop together in nearly two dozen locations with extended hours. Stores like Lesley Jane will collect wish lists to make shopping easier for family members. Many shops plan to host simultaneous activities such as henna tattooing and beauty bars.

Dec. 8 – Snowflake Seek and Find

A scavenger hunt invites families to visit a number of businesses, searching for snowflakes in the Village. When children have noted the location of 10 snowflakes on their card they can bring it to zWORKS on Cedar Street for a snowflake cookie to decorate. Lists of participating businesses will be available at Akards True Value Hardware in Boone Village throughout the day.

Dec. 8, 15 and 22 – Holiday Story Time at Black Dog Books

Black Dog Books, located at 115 S. Main St., will host Holiday Story Time at 10 a.m. every Saturday morning between now and Christmas. Susan Bruno will be reading holiday-themed stories. For more, call 317-733-1747.

Dec. 13 – Christmas Crawl

The Christmas Crawl has become increasingly popular since it began several years ago. From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., businesses on and around Main Street will offer snacks and beverages. A list of participating businesses can be obtained at the chamber office in Zionsville’s Town Hall.

Dec. 15 – Victorian Afternoon Tea

A traditional English tea will be served from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the SullivanMunce Cultural Center for the third annual Victorian Afternoon Tea. “It is just bringing a bit of Zionsville Christmases past back to the present,” said Candace Ulmer, who helps organize the event. “It’s a good educational part of our mission.” Ulmer said that former British residents who live in Zionsville help with the event to ensure authenticity. The tea is served with accompaniments like lemon curd and clotted cream. Although the event is free and open to all ages, reservations are required at sullivanmunce.org.

Dec. 23 – Meet Santa

Before Santa heads back to the North Pole, he makes one last stop in Zionsville to meet children and ensure his reindeer are prepared. Children can make reindeer food in front of Santa’s hut.

At the library

Dec. 5 – Nutcracker Storytime

At 10:45 a.m., Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Library will offer a Nutcracker Storytime for children age 3 to 12, featuring the Central Indiana Dance Ensemble. Attendees can take pictures and dance with the characters. The event is already full but spots on a waiting list are available at zionsvillelibrary.org.

Dec. 15 – Christmas Musical Cafe 

Sip hot chocolate and listen to the seasonal sounds brought to you by local young musicians from Make a Joyful Noise. The event is from 10 to 11 a.m. Only 30 spots are available. Register at zionsvillelibrary.org.

Dec. 17 – Visit with Santa

Hussey-Mayfield will host visits with Santa Claus at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. A free professional photo will be provided. Register at zionsvillelibrary.org.

Other local events

Dec. 8 – Paw Print Ornament and Dog Walk

Create lasting memories with your pets at the Zion Nature Center from 1 to 2 p.m. Attendees will create a paw print ornament celebrating their dog, followed by a walk at Zion Nature Sanctuary trail to explore the sights and smells of the forest in winter. Dogs must be on a leash and under owner’s control. Register at zionsville-in.gov/activities.

Dec. 14-16 – Tiny Wonderland

Explore dozens of tiny homes crafted by some of the best builders in the nation, kids crafts, live entertainment and local brews. Tickets are just $12 and children under 10 are free. Tiny Wonderland Village Hours: Dec. 14 from 3-8 p.m, Dec. 15 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Dec. 16 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. For more, visit tryittiny.com

Dec. 21 – Campfire and Carols

Dec. 21 is the official start of winter and the longest night of the year. Celebrate with carols and an evening stroll under the stars at Zion Nature Center from 7 – 8 p.m. After the hike, warm up at a campfire with hot chocolate and roasted marshmallows. Register at zionsville-in.gov/activities.

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