By Jennifer A Haire
If you’ve ever attended the Carmel Christkindlmarkt, there’s a good chance you’ve encountered Jerry Shrewsbury.
Each year since the holiday market launched in 2017, Shrewsbury, 80, has served as a volunteer greeter, spending three to four hours a day from the third week in November until Christmas Eve, making sure visitors know how to maximize their experience.
Often stationed outside The Tarkington parking garage entrance, he is prepared with numbered and color-coded area maps to hand out, must-try food suggestions and daily activity highlights.
“I do an orientation for people that have never been there before. I try to sell the market as far as explaining things to them of how the market works, how long it’s been in business, what kind of things there may be, and also at the same time tell them about the City of Carmel, the Center for the Performing Arts, which is right here where the market is,” he said.
The rest of the year, Shrewsbury volunteers and shares his knowledge at other events in his hometown.
Shrewsbury and his wife of 58 years, DeAnn, moved to Indianapolis in 1977 and relocated to Carmel in 1996. Before retiring from Liberty Mutual in 2002, his professional career also included educating others, as he ran employee and company training programs for 33 years. He also consulted for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, volunteering for various committees that included presenting training seminars and creating information booklets.
Serving 15 years on the board of directors for his neighborhood HOA, Shrewsberry was the point person for making sure new residents were brought up to speed.
Shrewsbury is also actively involved with the City of Carmel, staying up to date on city events. He has attended city council meetings and quarterly Carmel Neighborhood Association Network meetings and was part of three election campaigns for longtime former Mayor Jim Brainard.
Shrewsberry also has attended at least half of the city’s roundabout-opening events.
When the U.S. Conference of Mayors was held in Indianapolis in 2016, the convention brought the mayors to Carmel for a special evening at the Palladium. Shrewsbury and his wife volunteered as greeters, speaking to every mayor they encountered about Carmel. He remembers one California mayor who was inquisitive as to how Carmel was able to provide so much to the community.
“I like to interact with people,” Shrewsbury said. “I enjoy being knowledgeable about a lot of things. I also like to be able to really communicate with people about things that they don’t know about.”
When the Christkindlmarkt is in season, Shrewsbury often arrives 30 minutes before it opens to chat with visitors who arrive early, getting their thoughts on what their favorite festival food is or what they’ve enjoyed so far. He finds that most first-time visitors are surprised to learn the entire market is torn down and rebuilt each year.
Carmel Christkindlmarkt CEO Maria Murphy said Shrewsbury is “hands-down the most enthusiastic and dedicated volunteer” at the event.
“He sometimes arrives at the market before our staff to prepare for his volunteer shifts,” Murphy said. “He is always helpful, positive and kind. I love hearing him share with gusto about the market to new guests as he hands them a map and points to his favorite stops. I’m grateful for the countless hours he has generously dedicated to making our guests feel welcome and seen.”
Because of his dedication, Shrewsbury and his wife have participated in the CarmelFest parade aboard the Christkindlmarkt float the past three years. The market also honored his volunteer work by selecting him to ring the opening bell on Dec. 17.
Meet Jerry Shrewsbury
Jerry Shrewsbury was born in West Virginia, moved to Florida in 1956 and attended Florida State University, where he met his wife. They married in 1965.
He has two daughters, Stacey and Kelli, who also reside in Carmel. A U.S. Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam, Shrewsbury ran cross country while in the military and continues to run 2.5 miles a day. He also worked for the Army Corps of Engineers.
Shrewsbury is an avid car enthusiast, attending Artomobilia in Carmel every year. He enjoys attending shows at the Palladium and tending to his koi fishpond.