While the current tradition of stringing lights from the Monroe County Courthouse to the buildings around the downtown Square dates to 1985, the holiday custom has its roots to at least the 1930s (see photo). Back then, when trees on the courthouse lawn were barely saplings and few, if any, grew along the sidewalks in front of the buildings, only about ten strands of lights were strung from the courthouse dome to the facing buildings. Today there are 24 strands. (You might notice fewer lights this year than in the recent past, due to the removal of many of the sickly storefront trees.) But the lights in the 1930s were the size of today’s household incandescent lightbulbs, and they created what must have seemed as much a holiday wonderland as what we have today.
Many of the buildings around the Square are outlined in lights, and many of the storefronts have holiday displays. Fountain Square Mall has decorated its lobby with outsized ornaments, Christmas trees, hanging lights, tinsel, presents, poinsettias, dolls, and stuffed toys — teddy bears, snowmen, snowwomen, and, of course, countless Clauses.
The current rendition of Canopy of Lights has held fast for 31 years — with the lighting ceremony the day after Thanksgiving becoming a family favorite, including bands, entertainers, food trucks, thousands of people, and miles of lights. But all through December and into January, a stroll around the downtown Square will still put anyone in the winter holiday spirit.
And now, Aerial 812 and Limestone Post want to show you another side of the downtown Square and its spectacle of lights — from above. Shot by Aerial 812 founder Seth Teeters using drone and traditional cameras, this video shows you a part of Bloomington you’ve never seen before.