Holiday traditions make Fort Wayne memorable

2010 HolidayFest logo.

News release from the Downtown Improvement District:

Holiday Traditions Make Fort Wayne Memorable

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and all through Fort Wayne…people are getting excited for the official start to the holiday season. Keeping a long tradition, the annual Night of Lights will take place November 21 making downtown a magical place with sparkling streets bustling with heart-warming traditions.

The Night of Lights begins at 5:45 p.m. with Aunt Millie’s Northern Lights, then the History Center turret lighting and the Community Center Santa’s Workshop displays are lit. This year, the Community Center has new features for their lighted display. The Santa and his Reindeer lighting is next followed by the Wells Fargo holiday skywalk display and Indiana Michigan Power Merry Christmas Wreath. The Botanical Conservatory displays are featured then the animated holiday windows at the Embassy Theatre capture the imagination of everyone heading to the Parkview Field fireworks at 7:45 pm. The holiday fun downtown doesn’t stop after the lighting ceremony. Warm up with carols and cocoa at the Allen County Courthouse or participate in events like the Festival of Trees, Festival of Gingerbread and live reindeer at the Botanical Conservatory.

During the Night of Lights, there are many other performances and activities along the route. The Downtown Improvement District (DID) and A Party Apart provide free hot chocolate booths with cocoa served by volunteers from title sponsor 3Rivers Federal Credit Union, South Side High School and Hoosier Sports and Chiropractic. Look for free cocoa tents on Calhoun Street near the Santa display or at One Summit Square and at Champions on Jefferson Blvd. The cocoa is donated by downtown restaurants including Club Soda, Champions, Hall’s Gashouse, JK O’Donnells and Toscani’s.


The holiday season downtown wouldn’t be the same without the lighting of the Santa and his reindeer display on the PNC bank building. To build excitement for the Night of Lights, a “Santa Sighting” contest will be held the week before the Night of Lights across downtown. Each day, PNC’s miniature replica of the Santa and Reindeer display will be placed at a downtown business. It is 4′ x 8′ so it won’t be too hard to find! To enter the contest, simply find the display, take a photo with it and send the picture to Each morning, a clue will be given on the DID’s facebook page and also on Majic 95.1 fm. Participants can enter each day. A drawing among entries will take place morning Monday, Nov. 19. The winner of the Santa Sighting contest and 3 family members or friends will be given the privilege of flipping the switch to the Santa and Reindeer display at the Night of Lights with Mayor Tom Henry and Santa leading the countdown.

Completing a two-year project, the DID replaced the city’s aging street lamp banners that adorn our most active streets. The DID is pleased to announce the addition of new street decorations. This week, city crews are hanging seasonal snowflake banners on major downtown thoroughfares and lighted snowflakes will be hung along Calhoun Street. New wreaths will enhance Calhoun Street between Washington and Jefferson Boulevards. In addition, the DID is partnering with Wells Fargo to add new lighting features to their skywalk display over Calhoun Street. Together, the new lighted snowflakes on the street and the skywalk complement each other with a playful winter scene.

Free parking will be available at the Civic Center and Harrison Parking Garages beginning at 5 PM and the Plaza Garage at the Ed Rousseau Building (former City County Building) will be free at 5:30 PM on November 21, 2012. Gates may still be down when patrons arrive, but will be open for those who exit after 6 p.m. A special thanks to the City of Fort Wayne for this kind gesture!

HolidayFest’s Night of Lights is sponsored by 3Rivers, Hanning & Bean, Visit Fort Wayne and the Downtown Improvement District.

Downtown HolidayFest continues through the end of the year with performances, festivals, art events, Holly Trolley Shopping, and so much more. For a complete list of lighting ceremony activities as well as a comprehensive holiday calendar, visit


Downtown’s Annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony

The Night of Lights, November 21st

5:45 pm Aunt Millie’s Northern Lights (Pearl Street)

6:00 pm Community Center Santa’s Workshop display (Main Street) and History Center turret lighting (Barr Street)

6:15 pm Santa and his Reindeer lighting at PNC with Mayor Tom Henry, Santa and special guests (Main and Calhoun Streets)

6:45 pm Wells Fargo holiday display and Indiana Michigan Power Merry Christmas Wreath (Wayne and Calhoun Streets)

7:15 pm Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory Displays & Animated Holiday Windows at the Embassy Theatre (Harrison Street)

7:45 pm Parkview Field fireworks (Jefferson and Webster)


Night of Lights schedule 2012

Check out these special downtown activities during the Night of Lights:

Skating at Headwaters Park
1 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Begin or end your night of holiday kick-off fun by skating at the Headwaters Park Ice Rink! The rink will be open extended hours for Night of Lights. Admission is $5 (ages 14 and over), $3 (ages 13 and under). Skate rental is $2.


Santa’s Workshop at the Community Center
4 – 7:30 pm, 233 W Main Street

Start off your downtown celebration at the Community Center with free holiday activities for the kids. Come in for make-n-take crafts, cookies and drinks, and holiday movies. All for free! Donate a new or gently used bear and enter a drawing to win a giant elf bear. Kids can shop for inexpensive holiday gifts for $2 or less at the North Pole Stop-n-Shop. Mom and Dad can shop that night too. Community Center patrons have been crafting holiday items to sell on Candy Cane Lane. The money raised from the crafts will be donated to the Community Center’s wellness classes. Finally, check out our newly expanded light display on the Community Center roof.


Live Reindeer at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory
5 – 9 p.m., 1100 S. Calhoun Street

Bring the family to get a free photo with Santa, meet some real reindeer, and enjoy a free cookie and hot cocoa while you explore the Conservatory’s holiday gardens and light exhibits at their best. Regular Conservatory admission fees apply: $5/adult, $3/child age 3-17. Children 2 and under are admitted free. No reservations required.


Aunt Millie’s Northern Lights
5-8 pm, 350 Pearl Street

On your way to see the Santa lighting, stop by Aunt Millie’s parking lot for free hot cider and Aunt Millie’s Muffins. Check out the “Aunt Millie’s Northern Lights” amazing holiday light display.


Cathedral Books & Gifts
5 – 9 p.m., 915 S Clinton Street

Cathedral Books is located directly across from One Summit Square on Clinton St. very close to the wreath lighting and will be open with a special sale of 20% off everything. Don’t miss their free cookies & hot cider.


Wells Fargo
at Wayne and Calhoun Street

5 – 6 p.m. Northrop High School Choir performs, with music instructor Tom Maupin.

5 – 8 pm Wells Fargo is pleased to announce new lighted features as part of their animated holiday exhibit, located on the walkway over Calhoun Street. In partnership with the DID, Wells Fargo’s enhanced light display reflects the commitment to community revitalization in downtown Fort Wayne. Experience America’s most legendary vehicle- the Wells Fargo Stagecoach, which will be on display in front of the Wells Fargo Indiana Center. Cameras are welcome for family photos.


History Center presents 27th Annual Festival of Gingerbread
5- 9 p.m., 302 E. Berry Street

Explore the museum’s new exhibition gallery “Allen County Innovation” and see the gingerbread creations. The event supports and raises funds for the History Center and its programs. $2 tickets at the door.


Santa and his Reindeer Lighting
5:30 – 8 pm, 110 W Berry, PNC Bank

Visit Santa to get a photo and tell him your wish list under the sparkle of the Santa and Reindeer display. Enjoy a free cup of hot chocolate from the Salvation Army’s cantina or 3Rivers FCU cocoa booth. Commemorative ornaments from Easter Seals Arc will be available for sale.


Embassy Festival of Trees
6 – 9 p.m., Embassy Theatre, 125 W Jefferson

Stay a little longer at the Embassy and enjoy the grand opening of the tree displays and A Party Apart’s winter carnival on the stage.


HolidayFest – Hot Cocoa Stop
Courtyard by Marriott Downtown

6 – 9 pm, 1150 S Harrison Street

Enjoy Champion’ s Seasonal Hot Cocoa During Holiday Fest, Night Of Lights Tour.


Grand Wayne Convention Center
6 – 8 pm, 120 W. Jefferson Street

Open House

6:00pm – Complimentary Holiday cookies and punch

6:00pm – 8:00pm – ACPL Children’s Department Holiday Crafts

6:00pm – 6:30pm – Fort Wayne Youth Concert Orchestra

6:00pm – 8:00pm – Visiting with Mrs. Claus

6:30pm – 7:00pm – Faith in Motion Dancers performance

7:00pm -7:30pm – Fort Wayne Youth Symphony Orchestra


Holiday Fireworks and Lights of Love
Parkview Field, 5 – 7:45 fireworks

Cap off your night downtown with a spectacular fireworks display at Parkview Field! Get a sneak peek at the “Lights of Love” luminary display, presented by Erin’s House on your way into the ballpark. For information how you can sponsor a luminary, log on to The holiday fireworks will begin promptly at 7:45pm. Holiday snacks and beverages will be available for purchase.


Cocoa and Carols
6:30 – 7:30

Allen County Courthouse

In the Rotunda of the Allen County Courthouse

Performed by the Voices of Unity

Hot Chocolate and Cookies will be served.

Pictures with Santa in the Courtside Building

5 – 8 pm, 803 S. Calhoun Street

Stop by the Courtside Building to take your picture with Santa! The Courtside Building is located on the South East corner of Calhoun and Berry, so stop in on your walk between the Santa lighting and the Wreath lighting! Fill out a raffle ticket to enter into the drawing for a $50.00 Toy’s ‘R Us gift card. Sponsored by The Steffen Group.


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