Downtown ushers in holidays in brilliant fashion
Outdoor holiday lighting displays flick on to cheers and applause; there will be indoor activities, too.
By Cindy Larson | News-Sentinel
Next Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving, downtown Fort Wayne will come alive with the sights, sounds, crowds, awe and wonder of the holiday season.
HolidayFest, featuring the Night of Lights, is a combination of indoor and outdoor activities downtown, starting late in the afternoon. Organized by the Downtown Improvement District, the events for all ages usher in the holidays, especially with the lighting of various iconic Christmas displays.
And here’s a hint for house guests at Thanksgiving: Getting the family out of the house for a while the night before Thanksgiving may give the hosts some much-needed uninterrupted time to prepare for the meal.
What started as the lighting of the iconic Wolf and Dessauer Santa and reindeer display has now morphed into six display lightings, all within walking distance of each other downtown. Remember to dress for the weather.
Here’s the schedule:
- 5:30 p.m.: History Center turret lighting on Barr Street
- 5:45 p.m.: Christ Child Festival Nativity on the Ross Building on Main Street
- 5:50 p.m.: Aunt Millie’s Northern Lights on Pearl Street
- 5:55 p.m.: Community Center’s Santa’s Workshop display on Main Street
- 6:20 p.m.: Santa and his reindeer on the side of the PNC building at Main and Berry streets
- 7 p.m.: Wells Fargo Holiday Display over Calhoun Street by Wayne Street and the Indiana Michigan Power Merry Christmas Wreath on Wayne Street at the I&M Power Center Plaza.
- If you want to continue walking downtown you’ll be treated to three more outdoor events:
- 7:15 p.m.: Botanical Conservatory and Embassy Theatre window display on Jefferson Boulevard
- 7:30 p.m. Ringing of the bells at various downtown churches and the Allen County Public Library
- 7:45 p.m. What would a Night of Lights be without fireworks? The display will be set off from Parkview Field on Jefferson Boulevard. If you’re concerned about knowing where you’re going, don’t be — just follow the crowds.
In addition to the lighting ceremonies the following activities will take place Wednesday:
- Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at 1st Source Bank, 200 E. Main St., 4-6:30 p.m.
- Santa’s Workshop at the Community Center, 233 W. Main St., will be open 4:30-7:30 p.m. There will be crafts, refreshments and movies, and the North Pole Stop-n-Shop, where kids can shop for gift costing $3 or less. Parents can shop for handmade item in the Crafters Corner
- Fernando Tarango and his band will lead a holiday sing-along at the I&M Power Center Plaza, Calhoun and Wayne streets, 5-6 p.m. and 6:30-6:45 p.m.
- Aunt Millie’s will serve free cider and pass out samples of its Cranberry Apple Swirl bread 5-6:30 p.m. at 350 Pearl St.
- The Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza, will host a Random Fandom button-making event for teens in the Teen Department on the second floor 5-7 p.m. Limit two per person.
- Cathedral Books and Gifts, 915 S. Clinton St., will be open 5-9 p.m. serving free hot wassail and cookies while visitors shop. The store is offering 20 percent off your entire purchase during this time.
- Before and after the Santa and reindeer lighting, those at the PNC Bank, Main and Calhoun streets, can get photos with Santa and his elves, enjoy a performance by the Voices of Unity choir and sip hot cocoa from the Salvation Army’s Cantina. The event is from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
- The Grand Wayne Convention Center, 120 W. Jefferson Blvd., will be open 6-8 p.m. serving free cookies and punch. Visit with Mrs. Claus, watch the Faith in Motion dancers and listen to the Fort Wayne Phil’s Youth Concert Orchestra and Symphony. There also will be crafts for children.
- Enjoy the magnificent architecture and murals inside the Allen County Courthouse, 715 S. Calhoun St., 6:30-7:30 p.m. while drinking cocoa and being entertained by the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir.
- The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, 1100 S. Calhoun St., will be open 7-9 p.m. serving free cookies and hot chocolate. Mrs. Claus will be there, along with two live reindeer. The gardens will be decorated for the holidays and two dancers from the Fort Wayne Ballet will teach a few dance moves and pose for photos. Note: There is an admission charge — $5 for adults; $3 ages 3-17; free ages 2 and younger.
- Festival of Trees opens at the Embassy Theatre, 125 W. Jefferson Blvd. On Wednesday it will be open 6-9 p.m. This fundraiser showcases beautifully decked out Christmas trees in the splendid Embassy lobby. Cost: $8 adults, $4 children 12 and younger.