4 security changes to this year’s Downtown Circle of Lights

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis law enforcement and emergency responders announced they will have a greater presence at this year’s Downtown Indy Circle of Lights celebration and increase security at the annual event.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Bryan Roach, Indianapolis Fire Department Chief Earnest Malone and event organizers presented several changes to this year’s celebration Tuesday morning.

“If you look around the world, motor vehicles are being used in events like this to cause havoc,” Roach said. “And so we’ve got to prepare for that.”

Roach and Malone explained that while there is not a credible threat on the event, their teams are preparing to protect citizens with knowledge gained from national tragedies in recent months.

“Right after those things happened, we have homeland security groups that get together and communicate with the cities, looks at things that have occurred, and then we look at our abilities and how to make those adjustments,” Roach said.

Those adjustments will make a noticeable difference this year, according to Downtown Indy Inc. marketing vice president Bob Schultz.

First, organizers say this year, they’re moving the performance stage off the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument steps and into the section of North Meridian street just north of the circle.

“The steps of the monument will now be filled with spectators as opposed to the stage,” Schultz said.

Second, they’re using IndyGo buses as road barricades for the other three roads leaving Monument Circle.

“We use everything we can, right, and IndyGo we’ve used in the past for years for things like that, presidential visits,” Roach said. “Indianapolis is interesting because we all work together. When you have a need there’s somebody there that fills it.”

Third, they’re putting a stop to lawn chairs, popup tents, coolers and bicycles in the circle. Already restricted are firearms, weapons and animals (excluding service animals).

“More of a festival feel as opposed to a stay in place and watch the show area,” Schultz said.

Fourth, they’re bringing in more officers and emergency responders.

“Most of those assets you will not see, but I promise you they are here. You will also see more officers engaging people a little more,” Roach said.

Past attendees who 24-Hour News 8 spoke to on the circle Tuesday say the changes are just fine with them.

“I really don’t ever feel unsafe with crowds around here,” said Val Watson, who plans to attend the Circle of Lights for the first time this year. “Seems to be a pretty good area to come and do things.”

“I do think moving it a little bit away from the circle will help with the congestion,” added Jonathan Avant, a frequent attender of the event.

Downtown Indy Inc.’s Circle of Lights is presented by International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers No. 481 this year, and will start at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24. Visitors will watch a series of performers on the North Meridian stage, enjoy the lighting of the monument and watch a fireworks show at 8 p.m.

Public safety officials also noted that Friday night features the Indiana High School Athletic Association football championship games at Lucas Oil Stadium, a home Pacers basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and crowds of Black Friday shoppers. They remind attendees of three basic guidelines to increase safety: if you see something, say something; know before you go; and arrive early, stay late.