Early holiday spirit: More than 100 try out for Circle of Lights

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Early holiday spirit: More than 100 try out for Circle of Lights

Becka Phelps stood next to her parked car Saturday, her head ducked inside, bobbing and mouthing the words to Francesca Battistelli’s “Heaven

Becka Phelps stood next to her parked car Saturday, her head ducked inside, bobbing and mouthing the words to Francesca Battistelli’s “Heaven Everywhere,” as the song blared loudly from the car.

Phelps was auditioning along with about 150 other performers for one of a handful of spots to perform in the Circle of Lights on Nov. 25 at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Monument Circle.

Singing in the car, Phelps said, helped her get some nerves out before heading into the headquarters of IBEW Local 481 at 1828 N. Meridian St. The 21-year-old nursing student said she had tried out once before a few years ago.

“I’ve just worked hard on things I felt I was weak on,” she said. “It’s mostly a mental thing.”

Once inside, Phelps and dozens of other hopefuls waited in the audition room, watching other performers before them as they waited to hear their number called.

“We’ve had everything from 3-year-old drummers up to 90-year-old veterans singing songs about World War II,” said Bob Schultz, senior vice president of Downtown Indy.

Downtown Indy held the two-day auditions with WTHR-13 for the network’s upcoming one-hour special “Circle of Lights: Indiana’s Got Talent” on Nov. 22. The second audition will be from 4-7:30 p.m. Tuesday at IBEW Local 481. Schultz said judges will narrow down the pool from Tuesday’s tryouts to 10 finalists.

Those finalists will return in mid-October for one final audition before the final four to five acts are chosen.

Schultz said they’ve held live auditions for the past 15 years or so for the Circle of Lights ceremony, presented by the Contractors of Quality Connection and Electrical Workers of IBEW Local 481. The performances precede the annual lighting of the 242-foot “Christmas tree,” a garland of lights strung from the top of the Downtown Indianapolis monument.

“We want to invite the community to participate,” Schultz said. “It’s the community’s event.”

He had little helpful advice for those coping with nerves, though. After all, any winning act will have to perform in front of a huge audience during the Circle of Lights.

“They have to picture this experience for what it would be like with 100,000 people outside,” he said. “That’s why we go through a couple hundred acts just to find it.”

That didn’t seem to be a problem for 8-year-old Saige Brumbaugh, who sang “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” in Santa pajamas, while holding what appeared to be a stuffed reindeer in matching PJs.

The Crown Point resident came with her mom, Adriene, to the audition. She said she felt good about her performance.

“It’s fun to sing, and I like it,” Saige said.

For Cathy Harris of Muncie, this Circle of Lights competition was a chance she’s long been waiting to take. Harris brought her son-in-law and five grandchildren to her audition as she sang “Joy To The World” before the judges.

“I put my singing aside for years to take care of my grandkids,” Harris said. “But now I’m ready to get back to singing again.”

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