Saturday will be one time when you will see an Indy racecar moving very slowly.

The vehicle will be part of Ruoff Home Mortgage’s entry in the 27th Annual 2017 Festival of Lights Parade beginning at 6 p.m. beginning at Fifth and Brown streets in downtown Columbus. The procession follows a one-mile route mostly along Washington Street and attracts an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 people, according to organizers.

The long-range forecast calls for cloudy skies but temperatures at an un-Christmas-like 50 degrees. Higher temperatures have boosted the crowd size in the past, organizers have theorized.

One hundred entries will mark the event that normally lasts almost 90 minutes. It will include the Columbus North and Columbus East high school marching bands, the Bartholomew Consolidated Middle School Marching Band and the North Vernon Marching Pride, according to the lineup.

Story continues below gallery

But, besides the live music and Santa, firetrucks always are crowd favorite, according to Joyce Lucke, a member of the five-person organizing committee for the nonprofit JAKKS Inc. that handles the parade.

“Those always are a big hit with the kids,” Lucke said. “And we usually include almost every local fire department unit.”

The grand marshal will be Mt. Healthy fifth-grader Chelsi Dreyfus, by virtue of winning the QMIX Christmas Musical Fireworks’ poster contest.

The fireworks, choreographed to pop-rock Christmas favorites from the local radio station at 107.3 FM, will begin at about 7:15 to 7:30 p.m., launched from Washington and Water streets, according to QMIX News Director Dan Ball. In past years, they have been clearly visible throughout downtown.

Thomasson, Thomasson, Long & Guthrie is the presenting sponsor of the fireworks show.

J&S Displays, which unloaded about 1,000 pounds of artillery for QMIX’s Independence Day celebration, is scheduled to light the sky for the event.

The free Festival of Lights Christmas Village Winter Wonderland inside The Commons, without the vendor displays this year, kicks off at 1 p.m. and continues through 5 p.m. with crafts for youngsters, letter-writing to Santa and other activities.

Lighting up the season

What: Festival of Lights activities slated Saturday:

  • Christmas Village Winter Wonderland from 1 to 5 p.m. at The Commons, 300 Washington St. in downtown Columbus.
  • Parade from 6 to about 7:15 or 7:30 p.m., mostly along Washington Street.
  • QMIX Christmas Musical Fireworks launched from Washington and Water streets at about 7:15 or 7:30 p.m.

Cost: All free.

Information: Facebook page for Columbus Indiana Festival of Lights Parade.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.