Spectators lined the courthouse square to watch the annual Christmas Parade, and many stuck around to take advantage of activities for children and adults alike Saturday in downtown Frankfort.
“It’s a Whoville Christmas” was the theme of the parade, which kicked off festivities in Frankfort that will continue through Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Frankfort Main Street President Joe Palmer estimated that about three or four thousand people came to see the annual parade, which featured 50 units this year. Hundreds of them took their children to the Frankfort Community Public Library for a viewing of “The Grinch” that was organized by Frankfort’s United Neighborhoods, and many remained downtown to shop at the local businesses and eat at the local restaurants. Once the sun set, many people made their way to Veterans Park on the northeast corner of the courthouse square to listen to Christmas songs, get a hot cocoa or step aboard the Santa Express, which carried spectators through the Holiday Festival of Lights at TPA Park.
“We had great weather,” said Palmer. “I thought it went well. I talked to some of the help that was working that night, and they said the Santa Express was going pretty steady. I heard traffic was a little crazy out by the park, so that is a good sign.”
About 100,000 cars drove through the brilliant display at TPA Park between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day last year, and it is expected that even more will come this year,
“They have kettle corn and a soup kitchen out at the park,” Palmer said. “They have a bubble machine and a snow machine out there. So, there are a lot of different amenities for people to go out there for, too.”
Many of the downtown businesses took advantage of the spike in foot traffic by offering specials. At Johnny V’s Downtown Grille and Sports Pub, Hotel Tango Distillery had a free sample tasting set up on a table downstairs in the pub. Based out of Indianapolis, Hotel Tango Distillery was founded by a Recon Marine and his wife in 2014.
“There is a ton of the population in Indiana that doesn’t know Hotel Tango exists,” said Nick Ladis, vice president of sales and marketing for Hotel Tango. “Our favorite way to get out and make new friends is to get out where people are at and build relationships.
“The event went great,” he added. “I met lots of locals and got to share our spirits. The bourbon, vodka and cherry liqueur were house favorites. I love (Frankfort’s downtown). I feel very comfortable here. It reminds me of where we grew up in northern Indiana. We are just letting them know we are here, and it is an Indiana veteran-owned brand.”
The downtown celebration of the season continues with “Welcome to Whoville” on Dec. 14.
“That is when the (synthetic) ice rink will open up,” Palmer said. “And, of course, Santa’s express will still be running, and Santa will be there.
“This is a destination throughout the state,” he added. “We get a lot of people from other communities. Usually, people from over 30 different counties will be here at some point. That is what it was last year, and we may have more than that this year, especially with the tourism book out there that reached over 500,000 people throughout the state.”