Festival of Lights Parade wows thousands downtown

COLUMBUS, Ind. — For Dusty Blackburn, the annual Festival of Lights Parade involves more than seeing a procession up Washington Street. It’s actually about making a procession of Christmas memories with her relatives and grandchildren.

That’s why she and other family members had six of the little ones along for the mile-long event Saturday in downtown Columbus.

Blackburn already had spent the afternoon with the oldest ones baking Christmas cookies, which they ate during the parade.

“We all decorated the wagon here before we brought them down,” she said, motioning to a child’s vehicle bearing tinsel and more.

Blackburn and clan were among an estimated crowd of several thousand, which looked to be slightly larger than the throng from the event in 2019. That’s the most recent time it was held because of the 2020 COVID-19 cancellation.

Earlier in the day, the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department’s annual Christmas Village attracted about 700 people at The Commons. The theme was “Home Alone,” referencing the popular classic Christmas movies. Attractions included a selfie photo spot where youngsters could project their best “Kevin scream face,” as organizers called it, just like the character Macaulay Culkin played.

“It was really great to see so many families out having fun together,” said Shanda Sasse, The Commons manager.

For the complete story, and more photos, see Monday’s Republic.