Archive for November 25, 2011

Circle of Lights(R) Celebration Tonight on Monument Circle

November 25, 2011 1 comment
Monument Circle at Christmas Time

Monument Circle at Christmas Time. staff photo, (c) 2009, all rights reserved.

By Jennifer Hanson
Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.

Thousands of central Indiana residents and visitors will be on hand to see live performances by entertainers who were chosen to perform in the FREE 49th annual Circle of Lights® presented by the Contractors of Quality Connection and Electrical Workers of IBEW 481 event held on Monument Circle in Indianapolis on Friday, Nov. 25, 2011.

Seven exciting acts perform during the pre-show from 6 – 7 p.m. and the live, televised show (WRTV-6) from 7 – 8 p.m. The acts were chosen from hundreds of entertainers. This was the first year all auditions were recorded and made into an RTV-6 Circle of Lights® audition special, The Circle of Lights® Talent Search. The one-hour Circle of Lights® Talent Search premiered Thanksgiving night, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. on RTV-6 announcing the performers.

This year’s special guests include Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Yuletide Celebration’s hosts Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway. Local performers include Mia Cvengros, soloist from Rosedale; Champion Sisters, trio from Indianapolis; Devin Cunningham, soloist from Indianapolis; The Technicians, show choir from IPS Arsenal Technical High School, Indianapolis; The Rosettes, dancers from Franklin and Phillip Steven & The Open Road, house band from Brownsburg.  All entertainers donate their time and talent to the event, as there is no “talent budget” for the Circle of Lights® show.

Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway are hosts to Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Yuletide Celebration.  The sisters join Jack Everly for a musical extravaganza Dec. 3 – 23. Don’t miss the flying reindeer, tap dancing Santas, magical toy shop and amazing music that makes this one of Indiana’s greatest holiday traditions!

Mia Cvengros, 12, won her first Indiana State Fair youth talent contest in the female soloist category at 8-years-old. She went on to win that category three times, and in 2010, she was chosen as the overall winner in all categories. In addition, Cvengros competed at the 2010 “Colgate Country Showdown” and was selected as a top 10 finalist in both the Columbus and Terre Haute venues. Cvengros sang at the Joyce Lighty Studios in Rockville, Ind. for nearly six years. She and her family live in Rosedale.

The Champion Sisters is a trio comprised of siblings Trisha (25), Taylor (17) and Tracy (15). Residing on the south side of Indianapolis, the girls have sung together for years, crafting their harmonies in school competitions and in the church choir. All three have competed in music, drama and athletics on a regional and international level in high school at Nazarene Christian School. Trisha graduated and is manager of Anytime Fitness in Avon. Taylor has made a CD of wedding songs and is in the process of making a religious CD.

Devin Cunningham, 23, is an Indianapolis native who specializes in Christian music. His soothing renditions of gospel standards and contemporary Christian hymns show his true gift of music.  Cunningham has been singing since he was 9-years-old, performing in churches throughout Indiana and arenas all over the midwest for religious conventions and events. During his junior year, he was cast for the part of Col. Pickering in Joliet West High School’s musical production of My Fair Lady. Cunningham attends Calvary Tabernacle in Indianapolis. There, he sings in the church’s choir.

The Technicians of IPS Arsenal Technical High School show choir located on the east side of Indianapolis consist of 21 talented young men and women. They perform all year at conventions, events and other gatherings throughout Central Indiana. Their vision is to serve the community by providing exciting, enjoyable entertainment, while serving as proud ambassadors of their school. Adding choreography, style and sparkle to a variety of show tunes, ballads, new hits and oldies-but-goodies, the Technicians bring youthful enthusiasm.

The Rosettes of Le Rose Dance Academy in Franklin consist of talented young ladies ages 11 – 17 and one young man. The group trains up to nine hours per week in tap, jazz, hip hop, lyrical and ballet. This is the fifth time the Rosettes have performed at Circle of Lights® presented by Quality Connection and IBEW 481. The group has won numerous local, regional and national competitions. The Rosettes reside in Johnson County and are under the direction of Amanda Rose Williams.

Phillip Steven and the Open Road is the house band based in Indianapolis. Members include Phillip Steven, vocals and guitar; Chris West, guitar and vocals; Dave Eising, drums and vocals; Steve St. Pierre, guitars (many of them) and vocals and Craig Martindale, bass, banjo and vocals. They have been playing their high-energy brand of southern rock and country music for the past several years. This is the second time Phillip Steven and the Open Road have performed at Circle of Lights® presented by Quality Connection and IBEW 481.  The band has opened for and performed with such country greats as Kenny Chesney, Montgomery Gentry, Toby Keith, Rodney Atkins, Tracy Lawrence and many more.

Circle of Lights® presented by the Contractors of Quality Connection and Electrical Workers of IBEW 481 kicks off the holiday season in Downtown Indianapolis.  Each year for 49 years, thousands of people gather to see the décor that adorns the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.  The event is FREE and will take place Friday, Nov. 25 beginning at 6 p.m. with the televised show starting at 7 p.m.  Those in attendance will surely be delighted by the larger-than-life toy soldiers and sailors and peppermint sticks surrounding the Monument.  In addition, Santa will make his first official appearance of the 2011 holiday season and fireworks will end the celebration.

Quality Connection represents 80 union contractors and more than 2,200 IBEW 481 electrical workers committed to the partnership of labor and management working together. Visit

Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. (IDI) coordinates the Circle of Lights® presented by the Contractors of Quality Connection and Electrical Workers of IBEW 481 each year.  IDI exists to improve Downtown.  It is action-oriented and addresses critical issues that affect Downtown’s growth and well-being.  IDI focuses on three areas: development, management and marketing.  For more information, call 317.237.2222 or visit

The Legend of the Cherub Continues

November 25, 2011 1 comment
LS Ayres Cherub in downtown Indianapolis

LS Ayres Cherub in downtown Indianapolis. Photo provided by Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. and used with written permission.

By Jennifer Hanson
Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.

It was 1946.  World War II was over and thousands returned home from military service. Among them, Virginia Holmes–a prize-winning commercial artist–came back to Indianapolis and began her job in the advertising department at L.S. Ayres, a Downtown department store.  When it came time to compose the 1946 holiday catalog, merchandise was still in short supply, so Holmes created whimsical cherubs to fill the somewhat empty pages.  The cherubs captured hearts and began an Indianapolis holiday tradition that continues today.

Customer response to the cherubs was so great, Ayres perpetuated their appearance in its 1947 holiday advertising.  It was Ayres’ 75th Anniversary, and that called for a special addition to their holiday celebration plans.  Ayres commissioned nationally recognized Indianapolis sculptor and Herron School of Art instructor David Rubins to create a bronze cherub for the store’s landmark clock, located on the outside of their building on the corner of Washington and Meridian streets.

Cherub Keeps Watch

As the story is told, the whimsical Cherub mysteriously appeared atop the clock on Thanksgiving Eve 1947 to keep a watchful eye on the holiday shoppers (beginning Thursday, Nov. 24) until Santa took over on Christmas Eve.  In the 64 years since, thousands have had the pleasure of seeing the Cherub perched atop the famous clock each holiday season.  This powerful tradition lives in the hearts and minds and memories of a city and its grateful citizens.

The May Department Store Co. purchased L.S. Ayres in 1986 and in 1992, moved the Cherub to its headquarters in St. Louis.  There was tremendous public outcry when the Cherub did not appear that holiday season.  So May donated the Cherub to the City of Indianapolis and in 1994 Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. became the Cherub’s legal guardian.

So keep an eye out… the Cherub is appearing Downtown right now!

In addition, find replica Cherub ornaments at the Indiana State Museum gift shop