COVID-19 shuts down upcoming holiday events in Irvington and Carmel

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INDIANAPOLIS — The coronavirus is messing up holiday plans months in advance as Irvington is choosing to cancel parts of their Halloween Festival and Carmel is halting their Christkindlmarkt.

The holiday bash in Hamilton County drives in about 300,000 people between mid-November and December. It’s tripled in revenue since it began and brought in $3.1 million last year. That figure does not count the impact to nearby restaurants and businesses.

“There is just no way around it. You can’t have this many people converging on one single event in this day and age,” said Christkindlmarkt President Dan McFeely. “We explored many different ways to space out huts to affect the way the lines are resolved, and every scenario we looked at was just not feasible. Anything less than what we’ve done the last couple years is just not the Christkindlmarkt.”

McFeely says the city is working to come up with an alternate plan to still have holiday events in Carmel. Christkindlmarkt has become a holiday experience that has captured the hearts of Hoosiers across the state. While discussions remain ongoing, McFeely adds that the Monon Greenway in Carmel could be used as a linear event space for additional holiday fun that is safer.

“It will come with restrictions, and it will come with responsibilities because we don’t want to do anything to place anyone in danger,” McFeely says.

Irvington is having their own nightmare before Christmas. The Indy neighborhood lives and breathes Halloween all year long. This year their annual Halloween Festival, one of the longest running festivals in the country at 74 years, will no longer have the street fair. The marquee event of the festival averages about 60,000 people.

“Unfortunately, the times are unsafe for 60,000 plus people to be on Washington street right now,” said Manuel Aguilar, events director for the Halloween Festival. “We will put a new spin on things, and we will succeed like we have in years past.”

Other events at the festival will still go on either virtually or in a socially distanced environment.

In-Person:

Masquerade Ball
Art and Silent Auctions
Costume Contest (Pet and Human)
Window Painting
Pumpkin Decorating
Black Hat Society Séance

Virtual:

Scary Story Telling

It’s a big blow for Irvington business who utilize the street fair for foot traffic. This year Halloween falls on a Saturday, and event coordinators say it is expected to be a full moon as well. The combination of events had Irvington set up for their biggest street fair at the Halloween Festival in years.

“That’s kind of like our Christmas in October for our merchants,” said Nancy Tindall-Sponsel, director of the Halloween Festival. “It’s going to be a big hit to the pocketbooks.”

Tindall-Sponsel is a member of Irvington’s Black Hat Society of Witches. The non-profit group has already begun doing small parades in Irvington streets to try to keep morale up in the neighborhood. Losing the Halloween Festival street fair is the equivalent of telling Whoville there will be no Christmas.

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