Your Town Friday Holiday Edition: Festive Frankfort boasts one million lights in holiday display

FRANKFORT, Ind. - We're kicking off a special month-long holiday edition of Your Town Friday, starting with Lindy Thackston's hometown of Frankfort in Clinton County!

Frankfort is about 45 miles northeast of Indianapolis and close to 16,500 people live there today.

Some names you might recognize from Frankfort are Will Geer, best known as Grandpa Zeb on "The Walton's," and Kyle Cook from the band Matchbox Twenty.

If you meet the leader of Frankfort, you might be taken aback by his age. He's 30! And Mayor Chris McBarnes was elected seven years ago as one of the youngest ever in the nation, barely legal to have a celebratory toast!

"It was neat because the story attracted attention to my hometown," said Mayor McBarnes. "I’m proud to be a Hot Dog. I’m a Hot Dog through and through."

Yes, Frankfort is home of the Hot Dogs! More on that in a bit.

"If you’ve ever seen a Norman Rockwell painting, we are a Norman Rockwell community," said Mayor McBarnes. "Main Street USA. Americana. We have wonderful schools. We were just ranked the eleventh safest city in Indiana. We have wonderful housing. There’s a little bit of something for everyone in my hometown, and I’m very proud of that"

Shan Sheridan, Director of the Clinton County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development, has been here 35 years because he loves the people.

"The people of Frankfort are kind, warm and compassionate," said Sheridan. "And then beyond that, it’s what they have built here. It’s tradition. It’s a feeling of home. And I certainly appreciate that about the folks in Frankfort."

This time of year the holiday lights go up downtown, and that's where Mayor McBarnes told us the back story of a big mural of the Pence brothers on the corner of the square.

"The Pence brothers who came here from Germany actually donated around 60 acres which was the original city. Our industrial base has boomed which now supports our city. Our industrial park employs close to 4,500 people now. We have the second largest Frito Lay in the world. We are the city that feeds the state that feeds the world, and we continue to grow and get better with each passing year."

It's festive downtown, but head to TPA Park for a light display like you'd see in a big city.

"Our parks staff led by Parks Superintendent Travis Sheets really make a magical experience," said Mayor McBarnes.

The display started in 1992 with 6,000 lights, and today there are more than a million lights covering 89 acres!

Lindy certainly remembers going as a kid and Mayor McBarnes does, too.

"And that’s something to this very day, we still load the car up as a family. We just took my grandpa out yesterday and were able to take him through the lights. So it’s something young or old, it’ll light up a place in your heart, I promise you that,"

The Holiday Festival of Lights at TPA Park runs through January 1.

Now back to the city's mascot. Why a Hot Dog?

Frankfort High School Athletic Director Eddie Niehaus said, "Back in the thirties when Everett Case was the head coach, we were running up and down the court and someone called us a bunch of Hot Dogs and the name stuck and Frankfort became the Hot Dogs in the thirties, early forties."

Another big event each year is the Hot Dog Festival. Be sure to check that out in July!