Cold is the New Hot: Downtown Indy Keeps Bustling During the Winter Months
By Jordan Overton
Downtown Indianapolis continues to prosper. With a plethora of events and activities, local citizens and IUPUI students have the ability to take in a variety of events around the Circle City throughout the upcoming holiday season.
Fireworks light up the sky on Monument Circle after the 2011 "tree" was lit up for the season!
Though renowned for its fast cars, Indianapolis has recently reinvented Downtown’s bicycle and pedestrian experience by developing The Indianapolis Cultural Trail. In 2010, Indianapolis gained notoriety in the art world when the Indianapolis Museum of Art unveiled 100 Acres, the largest contemporary-art park in the country. Indianapolis is also able to boast about the Monument Circle, one of America’s great landmarks, located in the heart of Downtown.
Indianapolis residents flock to these locations, as well as such famous sites as the Indianapolis Zoo, The Children’s Museum and Lucas Oil Stadium. Now with winter approaching, a number of these Downtown attractions are looking for new ways to bring people in despite the harsh Indiana weather.
The front entrance of the Indianapolis Zoo - taken in May 2011 at the Zoopolis 500!
“There really are activities for everyone from children to adults in the downtown area,” said Ben Risinger, an IUPUI graduate student and co-founder of DoItIndy. “I will walk around White Rive State Park, the Canal and Monument Circle all winter as long as I can. Ice skating is great at Pan Am Plaza and you can always find a coffee shop in the inner circle of the city.”
DoItIndy utilizes social media to distribute a list of their top five best events in Indianapolis each week. Risinger founded DoItIndy to provide people with knowledge of the social happenings in Indianapolis.
“We will always be promoting events in inner city Indianapolis perfect for IUPUI students to take advantage of as we try to keep everything we do on the cheaper side,” said Risinger. “Downtown Indianapolis has a lot to offer college students; art, music, sports, culture, cinema and more.”
IUPUI is located minutes away from top Downtown destinations. But regardless of the many attractions around Downtown and despite the recent upgrades all over the city, some IUPUI students still struggle to embrace what Downtown offers during the cooler months. Throughout winter, seeing Downtown as a leisure option seems to fall by the waste side as students neglect to take full advantage of Downtown Indianapolis. As the temperature drops, so do the participation numbers.
“[Students] aren’t used to the downtown hustle or they just live way too far away for it to be economical. I know that a lot of students are commuters and live an hour or more away,” said Risinger.
IUPUI is a commuter college with a large percentage of the student body driving to campus from adjacent counties. So at times, the inclement weather can deter students from taking in all of Downtown. But high profile locations still offer a number of events around the Circle City despite the falling temperatures.
The downtown Indianapolis skyline
According to Brittany Smith, Communications Coordinator at Indianapolis Downtown Inc., people can still take advantage of Downtown no matter what the conditions.
IDI is in charge of marketing and promoting Downtown Indianapolis. They also provide information to the public about Downtown businesses, events and activities with the goal of improving Downtown. Their efforts are designed to attract more people Downtown by increasing awareness and participation in events centered on arts, entertainment, sports, hotels, restaurants and retail facilities.
According to Smith, anyone can avoid the weather and still experience Downtown by visiting places like the Indy Winter Farmer’s Market as well as unique shops along Mass Ave for Christmas shopping.
All Indianapolis citizens, including IUPUI students, can view the Circle of Lights on Monument Circle and take in Christmas at the Zoo throughout the holiday season. On top of these attractions, Indianapolis hosts a variety of events indoors as well. Both the Eiteljorg and the Indianapolis Museum of Art will bring in fresh displays during the wintertime to attract a newer audience.
“As long as there isn’t snow on the ground, have fun,” said Risinger. “The great thing about Indianapolis is there is so much to do within a small radius area.”
Make Downtown a part of your holiday experience
The holidays always bring plenty of different activities to Downtown Indianapolis.
Circle of Lights
Millions of sightseers take in the Circle of Lights throughout the holiday season, making the decoration of Monument Circle one of Central Indiana’s most popular annual traditions. The lighting of the circle will take place Friday, November 25 and will remain lit until after the New Year.
The Eiteljorg Museum
This holiday season, The Eiteljorg Museum will be transformed. Opening November 5, model trains will travel around replicas of Indianapolis, including the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and Union Station, as well as the Grand Canyon, Mt. Rushmore and Old Faithful.
The Indianapolis Museum of Art
The Indianapolis Museum of Art will display the Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection Dec. 2 – Feb. 12. The collection is comprised of more than 800 Native American artworks and highlights the art created by the many different Native American cultures.
The Indianapolis Zoo’s annual Christmas at the Zoo runs from Nov. 25 – Dec. 23. The Zoo opens at noon with holiday activities from 5 – 10 p.m. each night. Santa will make appearances throughout the season. This year’s event will be brighter than ever due to the recent installment of energy efficient LED lights throughout the Zoo’s grounds.
On December 8, Yelp will host Yelp’s Totally Bazaar shopping party at the City Market. Free and open to the public, the event will feature over 50 local artists and complimentary tastings from City Market vendors as well as their everyday menus.
I was recently interviewed by IUPUI student Jordan Overton about downtown Indianapolis and what it has to offer. The article was published the week of November 28, 2011 in the IUPUI newspaper.
Jordan Overton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos courtesy of KC Goshert Photography – http://www.kcgoshert.com