It’s hard to believe that 20 years have flown by in what seems like very few. I’ve had some amazing opportunities and met the best people over two decades. It’s difficult to recall it all, but many milestones I remember clear as day. Here are a few of my favorite memories.

A month after I started in 1999, we all witnessed the ribbon-cutting of the new Conseco Fieldhouse, home to the Pacers, Fever and numerous concerts and special events. I had been to a few games at Market Square Arena and watched in awe as the Downtown landmark imploded in 2001. I researched to see if the city could hold a contest for a winner to push the button, but it wasn’t feasible. I’ve since been to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for countless concerts, games and special events and love the venue and its plans for the upcoming renovation and ice rink.

My very first Circle of Lights in 1999 happened to be a huge year: all new décor, a new name and a bigger show. One of the first TV interviews I did, I claimed the event would “be magical” and Tamara kidded me about that for years. But it is a magical event and one we’ve made a family tradition, where my three girls will watch the show while my husband, Steve, and I work. So much hard work goes on behind the scenes, but well worth the effort when we see the smiles on every face. LED bulbs came in 2017 and new ideas are discussed every year.

In 2000, Firehouse Square condos were opening and the Downtown residential boom began. DII had a float (the one and only time) in the nationally-televised 500 Festival Parade: Make Yourself at Home Downtown! It was really nice. We held a news conference a week prior to show off the float and talk about Downtown’s residential growth. Thirty minutes prior to the start, a fire broke out Downtown, breaking news, and all TV cameras were diverted. No TV crews made it to the news conference, but it was still a great presentation. To this day, I still panic a bit before media events. 😉

In August 2000, I ventured with friends to Broad Ripple for dinner, where I later met Steve at the Monkey’s Tail. A few phone calls later getting to know each other, I invited him to the grand opening party for Claddagh Irish Pub, which our office was facilitating. Every staff member, including our sheriff liaison, sat down with us and asked him all kinds of questions, prior to any real first date. Needless to say, Steve passed the test and we married in April 2002 with three daughters to follow: Brooke 2004, Charlotte 2005 and Macie 2007. 

White River State Park is such a unique area Downtown and it got even better in 2004 when the Lawn opened. It’s such a fun venue and over the years we’ve seen Earth, Wind & Fire, Daughtry, Vanilla Ice, Shawn Mendes, Bare Naked Ladies, Fifth Harmony, Why Don’t We and other fun artists.

In 2005, DII was awarded the marketing/management of six new Cultural Districts: Broad Ripple Village, The Canal and White River State Park, Fountain Square, Indiana Avenue, Mass Ave and Wholesale District. I became the liaison/expert for BRV, Canal/WRSP and Wholesale District. It was a great few years creating guides, websites and events for the Districts. 

The Indianapolis Colts defeated the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI in 2007.  This was the Colts’ first trip to the Super Bowl and the first title claimed in the Colts’ history. I’ll never forget the victory parade and celebration Downtown a few days after the win. It was an amazing party and I happened to find out I was pregnant the same day!

Downtown’s landscape continually changes, which has been awesome to see from the Chase/Salesforce Tower. In 2008, The new Lucas Oil Stadium opened and RCA Dome imploded. Steve and I later attended the Colts vs. New England game in 2009 where the Colts/Manning came back to score 13 points in the last four minutes to win.

I love social events and had always wanted to attend Zoobilation. In 2009, I was selected to be on the Zoo’s Twitter team to be on site, experience it all and tweet to the world. We had a blast and were hooked. That year I became an Indianapolis Zoo volunteer and have volunteered for Zoobilation in the morning and attended the event at night, every year since. It’s our “most expensive date of the year,” and wouldn’t miss it.

One of the greatest announcements ever was in May 2008 when Indianapolis was awarded the 2012 Super Bowl. Super Bowl XLVI took place in Downtown Indy hosting the New England Patriots and New York Giants. This is by far my best memory ever. I was a part of the Super Bowl Communications Committee and worked on media row a few days helping journalists with their Downtown stories. Not only was it the warmest February week ever, but the fun was non-stop. I’ll never forget it.

In 2016, Indy was host to the Public Relations Society of America’s International Conference. A former colleague submitted an idea to present a session on successful event promotion and we were selected. Our presentation was: PR Tactics to Boost Your Next Big Event, and I spoke about Circle of Lights. It was a great experience!

The last few years have been a blur with the addition of events on Georgia Street (New Year’s Eve, Workout Wednesdays, Happy Hours) and the Downtown Canal Walk (Cabrewing, Pit Stop Paddle, Sunset Cinema), along with the HandleBar Hot Lap, 25th anniversary celebration and now leading up to Shining a Light on Monument Circle. It has truly been a pleasure serving Downtown Indy and witnessing the transformation of our Downtown over two decades. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Jennifer Hanson

Jennifer Hanson