Writer\u00a0 \/\u00a0 Tonja Talley\u00a0 .\u00a0 Photographers\u00a0 \/\u00a0 Chris Williams; Submitted Magic and excitement will again permeate the air around Monument Circle, during one of Central Indiana\u2019s most treasured holiday traditions, the Circle of Lights. Presented by Quality Connection and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) #481, the 52nd Circle of Lights will kick off the holiday season, starting at 6 p.m. Friday, November 28, with a free family-oriented celebration. From the Friday evening after Thanksgiving until early January, millions of spectators will take in the brilliant displays around Monument Circle. In the middle stands the centerpiece, a 284 foot Christmas tree, standing lit as a symbol of peace and brotherhood. Every year I have stood in awe of that, and I have prayed a prayer of thanks for the teams of individuals who have contributed their time to give such joy. I\u2019d like to tell you what just a small percentage of individuals have done behind the scenes for the Circle of Lights. Decorations on the Monument have been a holiday tradition since 1945. World War II had just ended, and Christmas was nearing. Indianapolis architect Edward D. Pierre envisioned the Monument lit up in lights and decorations, standing as a symbol of peace and brotherhood. For the next 17 years, Christmas trees, giant candles and small toy maker shops brightened the Circle\u2019s base, while elegant banners with phrases such as \u201cPeace on Earth Good Will, Toward Men\u201d clung to the Monument\u2019s bottom section. It wasn\u2019t until 1962 Pierre\u2019s vision of lights strung from the top of the Monument to its base became a reality. As I have mentioned, many people and organizations have played a role in designing, fabricating, installing and implementing the celebration d\u00e9cor. Initially, a group called the Indianapolis Christmas Committee, or the Indianapolis Holidays Committee, started the mission of what today is called the Circle of Lights. This mission today is the responsibility of Downtown Indy, Inc. The union electricians of IBEW #481 have always been the organization to install and remove the d\u00e9cor. Two hundred of these volunteer electricians utilize more than six miles of electrical wire, 52 garland strands and 4,784 lights to produce Indiana\u2019s holiday centerpiece. In a chat with Julia Saltsgaver, Quality Connection Executive Director, she told me the electricians work one strand at a time hoisting up the most northern strand first. Then the most southern strand goes next. The project continues with this north-to-south rotation going in a counter-clockwise direction until completed. By handling the strands in this manner, great care is taken to protect the structure and integrity of the Indiana Soldiers\u2019 and Sailors\u2019 Monument in the transformation process. \u201cThe contractors of Quality Connection and the IBEW #481 electrical workers are thrilled to provide their talent and skill to make sure that the Circle of Lights brings holiday joy for everyone,\u201d Saltsgaver said. The free celebration festivities start at 6 p.m. with the televised portion of the program running from 7-8 p.m. The Monument light-up will occur at approximately 7:50 p.m. The celebration incorporates local acts from dancers to choral groups, to singers and musicians, all of whom were selected back in early October from a panel of judges in a format similar to the American Idol auditions. For the third year in a row, the nine member band from Mount Pleasant Christian Church, led by Brian Tabor, has been selected as the house band. Based out of Greenwood, the group will rock the night away with Christmas tunes in a variety of styles, including R&B, pop and classic rock. \u201cWe are honored to serve as the house band for Circle of Lights again this year. Our team is hard at work, preparing music that will help us ring in the season of Christmas,\u201d said Tabor. \u201cWe are thrilled to be a part of such a special event in the life of our city. It has become one of the highlights of our year. If you have never been to the Circle of Lights, I encourage you to check it out. It is an unbelievable experience.\u201d Sitting down with Jennifer Hanson, Downtown Indy Senior Communication Director, I asked if the rumors were true. \u201cYes,\u201d she said, smiling. \u201cWe are also excited to have Indy\u2019s own Josh Kaufman, 2014 winner of The Voice, to headline the Circle of Lights. Additionally, professional performers appearing at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra\u2019s IPL Yuletide Celebration will take the stage. It\u2019s going to be a spectacular show!\u201d A lucky child each year is selected from a coloring contest to help \u201cflip the switch\u201d with Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. Nearing 7:50 p.m., the spectator\u2019s anticipation builds. \u201cWhat\u2019s that sound?\u201d a little boy screams from the crowd. \u201cHo, ho, ho!\u201d It\u2019s the jolly man himself! Santa! And as the child, Santa and the Mayor flip the switch, I\u2019m sure I\u2019ll hear Santa saying, \u201cMerry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!\u201d \u201cI love to visit the Circle of Lights every year. The splendor of Christmas shines so brightly on the faces of the children.\u201d - Santa, 2013. Circle of Lights Fun Facts: \tTravelocity named the Circle of Lights as one of the top five \u201cmust-see Christmas trees\u201d in the nation. \t Retirees of IBEW #481 in October inspect the 4,784 colored lights and revitalize more than two miles of garland. \tEach bulb color represents a branch of the US military: Army \u2013 green; Air Force \u2013 clear; Navy \u2013 blue; Coast Guard \u2013 yellow; and Marines \u2013 red. \tSurrounding the Circle, there are 26 larger-than-life toy soldiers and sailors (12 feet tall) and 26 peppermint sticks (10 feet tall). \tWith the last hour being televised, the Circle of Lights expects 100,000 people on-site and over 50,000 households to participate in the celebration.