On a chilly November night, a visitor from North Pole kicked off the holiday season in Old Town Greenwood.
Santa Claus himself made an appearance during Folktale Event Center’s first Old Town Christmas celebration Friday night. Claus was there for one of the most important parts of the celebration: the lighting of a 10-foot tall Christmas tree in Folktale’s front yard.
In a matter of seconds, Claus plugged in the Christmas tree. As the multi-colored lights twinkled on, the more than 230 people who attended the event erupted in cheers as Christmas season arrived.
The celebration is the result of a collaboration between the Folktale and Greenwood Pride, a nonprofit that produces LGBTQ+ pride events. The Christmas celebration featured live music from Anneliese & Ali and DJ A.I. with Bates Black Tie, along with a tree lighting.
The tree lighting was Old Town’s first public Christmas tree lighting in a number of years. Greenwood-A-Glow was a Christmas tree lighting event that used to be put on by the city and the Old Town Greenwood Association. Though at some point, the lighting stopped taking place.
Earlier this year, Katie Henrichs, owner of Folktale, and John Michael Jones, the founder and assistant director of Greenwood Pride, came up with an idea to have their own tree lighting to bring in the holiday spirit, Jones said earlier this month.
The tree lighting was the cap to a celebration-filled night at Folktale. Prior to the tree lighting, attendees listened to live music from Camby-based music duo Anneliese & Ali. In addition to performing Christmas hits, they also performed songs by The Beatles and Morgan Wallen.
Anneliese & Ali decided to take part in Folktale’s celebration because it was the first time for the event. Christmas spirit also factored in, they said.
“It’s the spirit of Christmas here. We got to bring it alive,” Ali Klausing said.
The spirit of Christmas is about bringing everyone together no matter who they are or where they come from. This is was the night was about, Anneliese Klausing said.
“I think these things are necessary to do and to bring all the variety of people together,” she said.
Food during the event was provided by Smokehouse Catering. Coffee and hot chocolate from Fresh Pots Coffee Bar, a new small business located in Old Town, was also available for purchase.
Whiteland residents Kelly and Cory Wright, along with Indianapolis residents Kylie Graves and Mark Belterry, came out to the celebration because it was local. They had never been to Folktale, so it was an opportunity to see what it was like.
“Great environment outside, warm and cozy inside the bar. It’s fun,” Kelly Wright said. “I love the music, and the lighting, the ambiance is very good.”
The tree lighting was the best part though.
“The cherry on top was the tree lighting. That was fun, and easy-peasy,” she said.
Both Folktale and Greenwood Pride had no idea what to expect in terms of turnout for Friday’s celebration. They did expect turnout to be affected due to people going to Center Grove’s state championship football game Friday night, said Suzanne Fortenberry, president and director of Greenwood Pride.
“I’m excited about having Center Grove in the championship game, but that took a lot of people out of the equation,” she said.
Still though, they are thrilled everything went so well.
“It was as much as we could have hoped. The weather was perfect,” Fortenberry said.
Katie Henrichs, the owner of Folktale, was thrilled to see so many people at the celebration. Her favorite part was seeing everyone get into a circle to see Santa Claus light the Christmas tree.
“I really enjoyed the tree lighting and just seeing a community of people going around in a circle to celebrate and kick off the holidays,” Henrichs said.
Fortenberry hopes they are able to do the event again next year. They’ve already started looking at possible dates, she said.
“We’re hoping to do it again next year, and make it a new tradition here in Greenwood,” Fortenberry said.