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2023 Canopy of Lights in downtown Bloomington features revolting children, Santa, and other typical characters



Bloomington, Indiana – Downtown Bloomington was a flurry of activity on Friday night, with Kirkwood Avenue closed off to traffic. The plaza was crowded, with more lights on than Rudolph’s nose on Christmas Eve.

Turning on the strands of lights that connect the courtroom building to the buildings surrounding the square, known as The Canopy of Lights, was part of the annual celebration that takes place the day following Thanksgiving.

In addition to live radio broadcasts from B97 & Hoosier Country 105, costumed characters took advantage of the 36°F temperature by serving hot chocolate, cookies, and kettle corn.

The Bloomington Brass Band performed a selection of seasonal favorites on the Kirkwood Avenue stage.

The program was emceed by Jim Inman, and featured statements from Julie Thomas and Penny Githens, commissioners for Monroe County, who had partnered with the Hoosier Hills Food Bank to organize the Canopy of Lights food drive. Through Tuesday, Nov. 28, donation barrels for the food drive will be kept inside the courthouse rotunda.

IU Health’s Lisa Empson announced to the assembly that the health provider’s Light Up A Life campaign is in its 37th year. She asked people to stop by the east side of the square and put their name on the donor board if they wished to commemorate someone.

Kids from Windfall Dancers, in the form of elves wielding giant candy canes, danced across the stage to the tune of “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.”

A section of the cast of Matilda the Musical, which Constellation Stage + Screen will be producing in the near future, followed the dancers. One of the biggest applause of the evening came from a group of children singing the show’s famous song, “Revolting Children,” in chorus.

Midway through the show, Inman announced that a lost child had been reunited with its adults, which was also met with a lot of applause. Inman had told the throng early that evening that a youngster had been discovered and was in search of its parents.

Leading the crowd with the sing-along favorites “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was Bloomington mayor John Hamilton, who was joined on stage by family and friends. Hamilton wrapped up with the walk-on song for the man in the red suit: “Here Comes Santa Claus!”

Santa counted down to the switch flipping from 10 to the cheers of the crowd.

A plausible Canopy of Lights crowd estimate for 2023 would be about 5,000 individuals based on a Google Earth measurement of the area where the majority of people were standing (30,000 square feet) and a medium crowd density of about 6 square feet per person.

Among those present on Friday night was Kyla Cox Deckard, whose tenure on Bloomington’s board of public works provided her with some insight into a believable crowd figure. She directed The B Square to the meeting package from a recent board meeting, in which the Kirkwood Avenue street closure was approved.

A staff document contained in the Board of public works meeting packet on November 8th said that approximately 5,000 guests were anticipated.


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