Two Republican members of the Anderson City Council want to change the name of Winterfest to Christmasfest, but the idea received a cold shoulder from the group putting on the annual festival.

The Anderson Indiana Main Street (AIMS) group has sponsored the annual Winterfest for the past two years and before that the Winterfest was sponsored for three years by the Mayor’s Arts and Culture Committee.

The Winterfest is normally a one-day event in December when the lights on a Christmas tree are turned on at the Town Center Plaza, Santa Claus makes an appearance, carriage rides are offered and businesses offer seasonal snacks.

The Anderson Parks and Recreation Department pays for the cost of erecting and decorating the Christmas tree.

Councilmen Jay Stapleton, R-3rd District, and Art Pepelea Jr., R-at large, sponsored a resolution Tuesday to rename the event Christmasfest.

“This is the Christmas season, promote it as such,” Stapleton said. “There is no date on the calendar called Winterfest.”

Businesswoman Nancy Moneyhun, with the AIMS group, wanted to know how government has the authority over a not-for-profit organization and what they can call an event.

David Happe, Anderson city attorney, said the AIMS group can continue to put on an event called Winterfest.

“The council has no enforcement power,” he said.

AIMS attorney Bill Kreegar said the council cannot rename the event. He recommended the resolution be tabled so that discussions could take place with the AIMS organization.

Kreegar said AIMS is a not-for-profit organization that promotes events in the downtown area.

Councilman Ollie H. Dixon, D-4th District, asked why would anyone want to change the name of the event.

Stapleton said the reason for the event is the Christmas holiday.

Pepelea wanted to know how many tax dollars are spent compared to donations from the public on Winterfest.

Moneyhun said no tax dollars are spent on the festival.

She said the lighted snowflakes that are hung in the downtown area were selected to reflect winter and not be religious based.

“We don’t want to offend anyone,” Moneyhun said. “We want people to come to the Winterfest to have fun in the downtown area.

“We want to be as inclusive as possible,” she said noting that Winterfest covers the Christmas and Hanukkah holiday celebrations.

Stapleton said by calling it Winterfest the organization is overlooking the desires of the majority of Anderson residents to call it Christmasfest.

Pendleton resident Joe McCord said he volunteers with AIMS and wanted to know why the council was wasting its time on the proposed resolution.

Council members voted to table the resolution and have a meeting with the AIMS group.

In voting against the motion, Pepelea said all kinds of people come from Hamilton and Delaware counties into the city.

“Everyone wants to come to Anderson and tell us how to run our city,” he said.

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