Campus organization transforms Town Square for Christmas celebration

by Peter KaspariStaff Writer

Last Friday night, the square in downtown Indianola was transformed. Songs filled the air and images of the Victorian Era adorned the streets. Residents of Indianola and Simpson College students were sent back in time for the 14th annual “Dickens of a Christmas” celebration.

Named after famed writer Charles Dickens, the festival brought to life the author’s novel “A Christmas Carol” via storefronts.

Vendors were also on hand selling food, choirs performed classic holiday tunes and stores on the square were opened extended hours for Christmas shopping. Additionally, activities such as woodcarving helped to give downtown 21st-century Indianola the feeling of the Victorian Era. For the second year in a row, Students in Free Enterprise have helped to plan the event.

Senior Cassie Norman, a member of SIFE who helped with the event, explains that a number of aspects come together to create the Victorian feel.

“We had a horse and wagon that gave rides around The Square,” Norman said. “We also had living windows where people would act out Christmas carols.”

Senior Mary Beth Hanna, another member of SIFE who integral in helping with the event, explains that the event was previously run by the community.

“Before we took it on, the Chamber of Commerce organized it,” Hanna, said. “But last year, they decided to do the parade of lights the weekend before.”

A grant was given to SIFE to aid in the planning.

“We received a grant and we are involved in all stages of planning,” senior Emily Marshall, current SIFE president, said. “We are the only entity that plans it.”

After working on Dickens of a Christmas for the first time last year, SIFE thought about what they could improve on and worked so they could make the experience memorable to all who visited.

“It’s stressful because there’s so much to do,” Hanna said. “But being able to walk around and relax and see how much everyone is enjoying it feels good.”

Marshall complimented the tireless efforts of all SIFE members during the planning and execution of this year’s celebration.

“Everyone that was involved put a lot of time and effort into it,” she said. “I think that’s phenomenal.”

Norman saw the event’s turnout as an indicator of its success.

“We were really happy,” she said. “There was a great crowd who enjoyed the festivities.”

Senior Hailey Johnson, SIFE member and an organizer of this year’s event, realizes that the event is beneficial to both the school and the town.

“SIFE is involved in Dickens because it is a great tradition that provides a number of opportunities for involvement from the community and Simpson’s campus,” Johnson said. “It’s important for Simpson to give back to the community that we’re a part of.”

A global organization, SIFE is one of many organizations available for students to join at Simpson College.

Marshall elaborated on other services the organization provides to students.

“They teach students how to identify the right job for you and to develop financial skills,” Marshall said.

She also said that SIFE is an organization that anybody at Simpson can join.

“You can obtain one credit per semester,” she said. “The people join at the beginning of the semester.”

Johnson explains the role of SIFE on campus as one that combines classroom teachings that are applicable off campus.

“The goal of SIFE on campus is to recruit students who can apply what they’re learning in class to develop projects that serve the community,” Johnson said. “All areas of study are welcome as this diversifies and strengthens the projects.”