CHARLESTOWN – After a holiday season full of Christmas lights and trains, the Charlestown Parks Department has raised funds that will help them fund community events throughout the year.
Light Up Charlestown is a big tourist attraction for the city, according to Mayor Treva Hodges and Parks and Recreation Director Marissa Knoebel, bringing people together for nights of celebration.
“The Parks Department derives the majority of its revenue from activities associated with Light Up Charlestown,” Hodges said.
This year, Knoebel said she wouldn’t be surprised if they raised at least $ 25,000 from the event as a whole. She noted that they had raised just over $ 6,500 in concessions and over $ 15,000 in Charlestown Express train tickets.
“The train ride is probably the most important thing we make money with. I think we’re very well known for our train ride,” Knoebel said. “For the most part every night we were open , we basically sold as much as the train rides.
Just over 3,000 people took the vacation train, and Knoebel said she believed the number would be higher if the weather cooperated.
The Charlestown Express train was part of the Family Activity Park, which also included tours with Santa Claus and mini-golf.
Hodges said she thinks the quality of the Family Activity Center experience is better this year.
“What we saw that was different was that people would come in and then hang out and do more stuff than usual, and it was a larger and larger age range,” Hodges said.
Knoebel said the 18-hole putt-putt course was used a lot while train rides were available; she said about 550 people played mini-golf while waiting on the train.
They actually ran out of golf balls at one point because so many people were playing mini-golf, Hodges said.
Neither Hodges nor Knoebel think COVID-19 has had a big impact on their numbers this year, but in fact Hodges said people were really excited to see the event again in person.
“Last year we saw crowds come out to watch the light show and walk through Greenway Park, but we had to close train rides and the family activity center. So I think we’ve seen a lot bigger crowds this year because people were eager to pick it up in person, ”Hodges said.
A big change in Christmas events in Charlestown this year has been the holiday market which has been installed in place of the ice rink. Knoebel said the market seemed to draw an entirely different crowd.
“Previously you only saw families coming who wanted to take the train, play putt-putt or come visit Santa… I think we captured a bunch of audience that maybe don’t go out,” said Knoebel.
The change is mainly the result of a cost-benefit analysis of the installation of the ice rink. Knoebel said the number of people skating on the ice did not outweigh the cost of maintaining the rink overtime.
The market alternative gave sellers the opportunity to sell during the winter, when there are rarely open markets. Vendors were available to rent the space at the market for $ 25 for the three weekend days.
Knoebel said sellers were generally able to recoup what they paid for the fees on the first day and profit from the sales for the next two days.
Robin Smith, owner of Sadona Farms in Scottsburg, attended the market as a seller of baked goods using certain ingredients produced on her family farm.
Smith said she sold all of her baked goods within the first hour of the first day of the market.
“I wasn’t prepared at all with how many people were going to be there,” Smith said, “I was excited to have sold everything, but I was also a bit… fearful because I knew I was going to be there. was to be back the next day at 4 am with still plenty of food.
Smith said she called her mother for help and the two spent the day preparing and packing to prepare for the second day of the market.
“It lasted a bit longer, but I still sold out pretty quickly. The following weekend I came, I was better prepared but I couldn’t believe the number of people who came, ”she said.
With a successful Christmas season in Charlestown on the books, the Parks Department continues to prepare for events for 2022.
The next event the department is preparing for is the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Knoebel said last year they did community service, but with COVID-19 on the rise again, they decided to not to organize an event that would bring together a lot of people.
This year, they are hosting a donation event for the Diaper Project, asking citizens to bring in items such as diapers, baby wipes, baby lotion, cups, bottles, and more. Items can be brought to Charlestown Town Hall at 304 Main Cross St. Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm
Other events residents can look forward to is an Easter event, Founders Day Week at the end of June, which Knoebel says will bring back the balloon glow and social ice cream, the events of the community days in mid-September, the Halloween treat trail, with many others.
Hodges highlighted a book club that will be held during the month of March, to celebrate Women’s History Month. Hodges said they received a donation from Ivy Tech Community College to run a children’s book club and that they will read a book called “A Vote for Susanna: The First Woman Mayor.”