Watch group hosts Christmas events

A community organization is hoping to bring some Christmas spirit to downtown Columbus this weekend.

The 9th Street Park Neighborhood Watch will host its “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” event on Friday. The celebration will begin at 6 p.m., with attendees meeting at The Commons and caroling all the way to Columbus City Hall.

“Once we get to city hall, Santa Claus will be arriving on the Stutz fire truck from Station 1,” said neighborhood watch coordinator Christopher Rutan. “And we’ll have a professional DJ. We’ll be rockin’ around the Christmas tree, have a lot of pictures taken. Santa Claus will greet the children and also be handing out candy canes, along with the neighborhood watch providing a hot cocoa bar and some snacks.”

The neighborhood watch members said the event would bring back the tradition of lighting the city hall Christmas tree.

City facilities director Mike Pope, who has been with the city for more than 30 years, said that they stopped holding the lighting ceremony because “fewer and fewer people” were showing up. He also stated that the city is not involved with this Friday’s event, which has been organized by the neighborhood watch.

Rutan said that the tree will actually be lit up on Friday prior to the start of the event. However, attendees will be the first ones on the city hall plaza to celebrate the sight, and the neighborhood watch hopes this brings back fond memories.

He also noted that since this year’s Festival of Lights Parade has been canceled for this year— though there are plans for the event to return in 2023 — it seemed like the area could use some more holiday spirit.

“We thought we would bring Christmas back with the community,” Rutan said.

The 9th Street Park Neighborhood Watch will also offer sleigh rides in downtown Columbus on Saturday at $10 per person or $40 per family. The event will be staged at the Bartholomew County Public Library, with hot cocoa and cookies available. Reservations are preferred and can be made by contacting Rutan at 812-447-2121 or [email protected]

Half of the sleigh ride proceeds will go to the neighborhood crime watch, and the other half will go to the organization’s emergency animal care fund.

“We have already chipped in several times this year to help families that have a pet that needed emergency surgery, and we’ve been able to help out on their bills,” said Rutan. “Now maybe we weren’t able to clear all of it, but we were able to get it down to where they could pay the rest.”

The organization is also planning another event — “Christmas At The Park” — which will be held at 9th Street Park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 10. According to the group’s social media, this will include visits from different Christmas characters, gifts from Santa and free refreshments.