For the second straight year, a girl from northern Putnam County has won the Circle of Lights coloring contest, thereby earning the right to flip the switch on Monument Circle's "world's largest Christmas tree."
Brilye Schmitz, a seven-year-old from Heritage Lake, earned the right to brighten downtown Indianapolis with 4,784 lights when her entry was selected from among the more than 2,500 entries.
A second-grade student at Elim Learning Center in Clayton, Schmitz is the daughter of Nikki Clark and Robert Schmitz and the sister of Ashlyn Clark.
"We're overjoyed that she won," Robert Schmitz told the Banner Graphic.
The proud dad was especially pleased that Brilye accomplished the feat herself, with no adult help aside from printing off the form and getting it mailed.
Brilye's winning entry includes a drawing of Monument Circle's holiday scene, complete with colorful toy soldiers and Santa.
Although a win in such a big contest may have come as a surprise, Robert said his daughter's penchant for art is nothing new. She spends much of her free time drawing.
"She's constantly drawing. Every day when I come home she has a picture for me," Robert said. "She says, 'This is what I made for you, Dad.'"
Besides drawing, another big interest for Brilye is cheerleading. She has twice won cheerleading nationals through Elite Cheer and Dance.
"She's a pretty gifted and talented little girl," Robert said.
With the win comes a busy comes a whirlwind of a holiday weekend for Brilye and her family. After a Thanksgiving morning interview with WRTV 6 comes today's activities at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
Besides flipping the switch at approximately 7:45 p.m., Brilye will receive a Circle of Lights gift and her original coloring sheet framed.
On Saturday, the Schmitz family will be in Plainfield for Brilye to receive a gift card at Indiana Members Credit Union, which partnered in sponsoring the coloring contest.
"She's going to be a busy little girl the next three days," Robert said on Wednesday.
More than 100,000 spectators are expected for tonight's Circle of Lights presented by the Contractors of Quality Connection and Electrical Workers of IBEW 481 ceremonial lighting and holiday kickoff from 6--8 p.m.
A live broadcast of the event will take place from 7-8 p.m. on WRTV 6.
The event will feature festive acts from entertainers who were selected from statewide auditions.
Santa makes an official appearance to kick off the holidays, the lights will be lit and the show ends with fireworks for all to enjoy.
But one little girl will be enjoying it more than almost any of the 100,000 people around her.
"She's very happy. I think she's in awe over it," Robert said of Brilye. "We're very proud of her too."