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Holiday Spirit

Kelsey pushing to expand
Madison Christmas parade

He seeks business sponsorships
to step up quality of event

Tess Worrell
Contributing Writer

(August 2012) – Madison, Ind. revels in summer – The Regatta, Ribberfest, Chautauqua. If Aaron Kelsey has his way, Christmas may become the next big draw.
“Merrymakers head to Chicago for the window displays and New York for the parade, so why can’t they head to Madison?” Kelsey asks rhetorically.
Kelsey is the fine arts instructor at Madison Consolidated High School and has volunteered to organize this year’s Madison Christmas Parade. He stepped up after the parade was canceled last year.
If local businesses and individuals join forces, Kelsey believes Madison could create a Christmas parade that draws thousands for the show, and then keeps them for the shopping.

Aaron Kelsey

Aaron Kelsey

This year, the Madison Christmas Parade is schedule to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1. The parade route runs along Main Street from Jefferson to Mill streets. The parade features floats, bands and characters sponsored by individuals, churches and businesses to celebrate the spirit of Christmas.
“I love Christmas. I love parades. This seemed a perfect combination,” says Kelsey.
He hopes to take the parade to a level that not only celebrates all the community has known from past parades, but builds on that foundation to offer new attractions.
“The parade kicks off the holiday season,” says Kelsey. “We want to kick it off in a way that draws everyone downtown.”
He envisions bands, quality floats and character balloons combining into more than simply a stream of entries but a cohesive show. Think Macy’s parade in New York. Choirs, performers, and bands could offer excerpts from plays and songs intermixed with well-crafted floats into an event that rivals big city talent while keeping the small town charm.
Kelsey hopes this vision will catch the attention of businesses, volunteer organizations and industries in Madison so they step forward to sponsor entries. “The parade offers businesses the opportunity to get their name before the community,” says Kelsey. He hopes Main Street businesses will also create store window displays to rival Chicago. “Why can’t Madison be the draw for the region?” he asks. “If we become the place known for an exciting parade, beautiful windows, and a vibrant spirit; people will choose to spend their Christmas here.”
Nathan Montoya, co-owner of Village Lights Bookstore, caught Kelsey’s vision and couldn’t wait to jump on board. He called Kelsey the day after the new plan for the parade was announced to offer his participation. Village Lights will sponsor a beloved, well-known character from children’s books to greet children and adults alike during the parade.
“This is a community event that requires the whole community – business, industry, individuals – to get involved,” Montoya said.
He notes that he and his wife, Anne Vestuto, invested everything they had in opening a business in Madison because they love the community. “We plan to live and die here. If the community is going to move forward, we need to support programs that benefit the community.”
Montoya said he would like to see the parade involve so many people from Madison that only outsiders are left to watch. He knows other businesses are likewise planning their contributions to the parade and can’t wait to see the final result of everyone’s cooperation and enthusiasm.
The Madison Business and Professional Association organizes the parade via the Main Street Program, a program dedicated to improving the economy of Madison through supporting local business and industry. Montoya notes that the association can organize events, but it will take the financial backing of businesses for its efforts to bear fruit.
Kelsey said he would love businesses to sponsor professional floats or licensed characters to elevate the quality of the parade. Kelsey will make the job for those participating easier with a special workshop on how to create quality floats along with information on where to purchase materials in early fall.
The parade, already a Christmas tradition for many throughout the region, offers the opportunity for locals and tourists alike to gather, enjoy the beauty and fun of local talent, and then support the businesses that make the parade possible.
To sponsor an entry, email Kelsey at pkelsey@madison.k12.in.us or contact Andrew Forrester at Madison City Hall at (812) 265-8300 for a copy of the entry form.

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