Guest blogger Aili McGill, Assistant General Manager for Guest Experiences at Conner Prairie, describes the beauty of Prairietown at Conner Prairie by Candelight.
There's a different quality to the night here. The sky seems somehow bigger, darker - drawing in ever closer, all around you. The roads here are all washed with the warm, golden glow of candles. Gone is the garish glare of Christmas decorations, no harsh blue aura of compact fluorescents and computer screens. The night becomes something you can feel - the icy, inky black sky oozes all around you, nipping at your nose and cheeks, slithering into your shoes and wrapping your toes in winter. You can't help but snuggle deeper into your comfy coat or scarf and stuff your hands further into your pockets. Each breath you take fills your lungs, your heart, your head with this permeating presence of early winter, and it somehow simultaneously soothes you, while filling you with a sense of child-like giddiness. You first notice that winter itself has a scent - a sharp, minty freshness - and then you notice the charming smell of wood smoke and beeswax candles, the mustiness of farm animals and feed, and maybe a hint of gunpowder and even gingerbread or roasted meat wafting through town. You breathe deeper, enjoying the novelty of it all. And, for the most part, all is quiet - more still than you're used to, as a matter of fact - like a hush has fallen over the dirt path you're following. There's no whoosh of cars passing close by. There's no hum of electronic equipment or muffled mumbling of TVs enclosed behind big picture windows. No dogs barking. You start to notice the crunch of your own shoes on the gravel and icy residue on the path beneath you, followed by the rustle of the clothes you and your companions are wearing, and their breath - they're all panting slightly as their bodies reacclimatize to the cold. You notice their breath escaping in puffs from their slightly parted lips, quickly spreading, rising, intertwining, and swooping up into the night sky, as if each of you are already dissipating and mixing, bit by bit, into this unique experience. Suddenly, the calm of night is torn asunder by the sharp crack of a pistol shot, followed immediately by raucous laughter and cheers. "Hu-zzaaaaaahhh!" cry several voices, accompanied by the clatter of what sound like tins pails banging together. You begin to realize that there's much more to be discovered in this quaint little town. Before you can make out the shapes of the Rowdies through the dark silhouettes of trees, you realize that your group has made it to the front porch of the Golden Eagle Inn. You hear their shoes clunking on the wooden floor of the porch, and you hear a soft rattle as some timid soul knocks on the door. The door swings open and warm, golden firelight spills across you. A friendly, cheerful voice bids you enter, and slowly you and your companions immerse yourself in the tantalizing, magical world of Christmas Eve in 1836. Conner Prairie by Candlelight December 10, 11, 17, 18 - Tours every 10 minutes from 5-8 p.m. Reservations required. $14/adult ($12/member adult) $12/youth ages 2-12 ($10/member youth) Group of 15 or more: $13/adult, $11/youth Optional Dinner (additional fee)