Holiday parade organizers seeking more sponsors, volunteers

Mike Wolanin | The Republic A Harrison Township fire truck passes under Exhibit Columbus installation InterOculus during the Columbus Festival of Lights Parade in downtown Columbus, Ind., Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023.

Organizers of the 2024 Festival of Lights Parade are seeking an added parade of sorts — one of sponsors and volunteers for the free event scheduled Dec. 7 in downtown Columbus.

Amy Stoughton Berquist, chief financial officer for the nonprofit Red Arch Community Events that planned last year’s event, said that those interested in either role can come to an organizational meeting at 5:30 p.m. June 11 at Ivy Tech Community College’s Moravec Hall on Central Avenue.

The 100-entry parade that returned last year after being canceled for 2022 included 75 volunteers and 50 sponsorships, including in-kind support, according to organizers. Ideally, they hope to boost those numbers while also reducing the number of planning committee meetings for volunteers by making their overall planning more streamlined and efficient this year.

“We certainly learned a lot our first year,” Berquist said. “But we couldn’t have asked for a better first year.

“Overall, we think everything went marvelously.”

She added that safety and crowd control is still a top concern, and acknowledged that some in last year’s throng of an estimated 10,000 people or more along a crowded, mile-long route ignored police officers’ and volunteers’ requests for them to stay out of the street once the event began and floats began rolling.

“But I can say that most of the (overall) feedback we’ve gotten has been positive,” she said.

She said that she and Sarah Forbes, president of Red Arch Community Events, have met with city officials, police and others since December to assess h0w to make the event better.

“We still want to offer a thank you to the city of Columbus for letting us host,” Berquist said. “We also extend a thank you to all sponsors and volunteers, and also to all the spectators who came back for the event. We were floored by all the support.

“And we feel so blessed.”

Forbes agreed.

“We are excited to see if we can make it better and brighter for 2024,” Forbes said. “(We want others) to come be a part of this event with us.”

The parade began on Dec. 4, 1993, with 52 units, with the staging area that year at Mill Race Park. That later was moved to the Cummins Inc. lot on Brown Street. It was canceled in 2013 because of a snowstorm and bitter cold. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was canceled again in 2020.

To reach parade organizers:

[email protected]

or via the webpage at