City officials have received a slow but steady response to their efforts in planning a kind of reverse Christmas parade at Gregg Park early next month.

Mayor Joe Yochum, in conjunction with the city’s parks board, in October announced a change to the annual Parade of Lights, a beloved Main Street holiday tradition.

Since people can’t gather in large groups — taking large-scale parades off the table, so to speak — they’ve taken charge and decided to reverse the process.

Christmas in the Park has been set for the evenings of Dec. 4-5. City officials are inviting people who would have entered floats in the Parade of Lights, which for years has been organized by now at-large city councilman Marc McNeece and the city’s Vincennes Central Business District, and encouraging them to set up displays — whether they be actual floats or something else entirely — inside Gregg Park.

So far, the mayor said they’ve received six or seven entries, and while it’s not the overwhelming response he was hoping for, he plans to move ahead regardless.

“Maybe we’ll get more,” he said. “I hope we do.”

The plan is to set entrants up around the park, and motorists will be able to drive through, not unlike the annual Christmas light display at Ouabache Trails Park.

Santa, too, will be waiting at the end to greet youngsters — from 6 feet away, of course, and there will be a live nativity scene as well, Yochum said.

Motorists will be directed to enter Gregg Park from Washington Avenue then send them around toward Niblick Boulevard. They will then proceed all the way around the park — going the “wrong way,” if you will — then exit back out onto Washington Avenue.

The city began taking entries in October and will continue right up until the event itself, the mayor has said.

City officials will arrange for security detail so entrants will be able to leave their lighted displays or floats inside the park once they’re in place; the event will be from 6-9 p.m. both nights.

Steve Beaman, superintendent of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said the light poles around Gregg Park, too, will be decorated as they are every holiday season.

All of them, he said, have been claimed by area businesses, families and non-profit organizations, and already about seven have been decorated.

“And I expect a lot more will be done by the end of the weekend with the nice weather we’re supposed to have,” he said.

Between the light poles and the Christmas at the Park lighted displays — however many the city ends up with — Beaman said he’s glad to see people getting in the holiday spirit amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Just to grab hold of anything good these days gives you an upbeat feeling, I think,” he said. “And this will get people out of the house for a couple of nights, make things feel a bit more like normal.

“Because there’s nothing like driving around and looking at Christmas lights,” he said with a smile.

For more information, contact City Hall at 812-882-7285. Entry forms can also be downloaded via the city’s website, www.

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