Southern IN Christmas tradition expects even more crowds once East End Bridge opens

Southern IN Christmas tradition expects even more crowds once East End Bridge opens

CHARLESTOWN, IN (WAVE) - When it comes to Christmas light displays, it could be called southern Indiana's best-kept secret.

But over the years the secret is slowly getting out and soon a new bridge connecting East Louisville to rural Clark County will invite even more people to the city of Charlestown.

"It's magical and the Christmas spirit is everywhere," Charlestown Clerk Treasurer Donna Coomer said.

During the day, all is calm in the city of Charlestown, but all will soon be bright.

"Thousands and thousands of lights on the city square," Coomer said.

The square has come a long way since the early 2000s when a lone Christmas tree was all you would see. Now, it's home to the largest animated light show in southern Indiana, all choreographed to holiday music. Across the street in Greenway Park, you'll find a winter wonderland.

"There's hot chocolate and apple cider," Coomer said. "There's two covered bridges that you go across the covered bridge on a horse and carriage ride and a lot of displays there also."

You can also catch the Charlestown Express or put on your ice skates and hit the rink.

"Bus loads are coming in," Coomer said. This year the city is already seeing record numbers of visitors, up 30% so far. The influx of visitors has organizers anticipating even bigger crowds after the East End Bridge opens on December 18th.

"Do we need to build another train? I mean really, we do think about that a lot," Coomer said.

"It's a great time to be in Charlestown," Charlestown Pizza Company owner Shawn Vest said. Inside the pizza shop on the square, Vest said in the last five years, business has boomed this time of year.

"We start taking reservations for the holiday season, which is the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas in August," Vest said.

With new access to East Louisville, he can only imagine what the future will have in store.

"Rather than a 40-minute journey all the way through downtown and back here again, it will be a 15-minute journey for lots of people," Vest said.

As each year more and more make Charlestown a Christmas must.

"Once they come, they make it a tradition," Coomer said.

Christmas in Charlestown is happening each night Monday through Saturday, you can catch Santa on the weekends. The light displays are all free to check out and the other activities like the train, skating, and carriage rides are just $5.

Copyright 2016, WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.