Longtime CarmelFest parade director to coordinate final event 


By Chris Bavender 

CarmelFest Barbara Ellis
Barbara Ellis

This year’s CarmelFest will be bittersweet for Barbara Ellis. For 19 years, she has been associated with the event, from serving as director, parade chair and parade advisor. But the 2022 festival will be her last as she plans to move to Florida.

“The leadership team for the parade has become a well-oiled machine,” she said. “So, in a way, I am very sad to be leaving.”

Ellis first became involved with CarmelFest through the Carmel Rotary Club.

“At our Carmel Rotary Club meeting, the president, Craig Sherman, said Mayor (Jim) Brainard had come to the club to ask for leadership for CarmelFest, as the previous committee had been terminated,” she said. “Sue Westermeier was sitting next to me. I leaned over and said I have the skills to do that. She responded, ‘You volunteer to lead it, and I will help.” So, I volunteered.”

The duo had seven weeks to recreate the event. 

“I remember Craig asking me early on, ‘Do you think you can pull this off?’” Ellis said. “I responded, ‘If it can be done, I can get it done.’”

And she did.

Ellis will take with her years of memories.

“I love the fireworks and the entertainment,” she said. “And, of course, I love the parade. It has been a joy to get to know the many people involved with CarmelFest. I am especially grateful to get to know (Carmel City Council member) Jeff Worrell, who saved me that first year.”

As for her move to Florida, don’t expect Ellis to simply sit and relax.

“I volunteered to be on the social committee for my street,” she said. “I’ll check out the Rotary clubs in the Titusville area and align with an active club.”

Despite moving, Ellis doesn’t plan to be a stranger in Carmel.

“Don’t be surprised if I travel this way for the Fourth in 2023,” she said.