Most of the sights of a Fort Wayne Christmas are falling into place, but 2020 will bring a low-key celebration without large public gatherings.
Many events have been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other holiday favorites are going online only or are available to limited audiences. The list grows each week. Follow infortwayne.com for updates.
Traditional Christmas decorations are going up around the downtown, but the always anticipated series of lightings on Thanksgiving Eve won’t happen in 2020. Instead, spectators are welcome to take in the sights in the socially distanced company of their families and friends.
The Fantasy of Lights has begun welcoming cars through Franke Park. The public is welcome to tour the light show each evening through Dec. 31, but groups with ID’S for certain theme nights will be admitted free. General admission remains $10 per car to experience the nearly 2-mile route which will feature at least 127 scenes made up of over 425 displays, seven more scenes than last year.
Fantasy of Lights has added a Christmas Market this year, located at the end of the traditional Fantasy of Lights route in the Foellinger Theatre Parking lot. Admission to the market is free, but patrons will need to drive through the 2-mile lighted route to attend.
The safe, open-air Christmas Market will feature unique food and craft vendors, Christmas music, and outdoor photo-taking opportunities in larger-than-life displays. The market will only be open 11 nights during the entire Fantasy of Lights event: Dec. 10-13 and Dec. 17-23. Vendors will be located inside their own tents throughout the market, and all patrons will be expected to wear face coverings to attend.
At least one tree-lighting is at hand. On Monday, a towering tree was placed in Broadway Plaza in front of the Hardin & Shine Law Office.
This year’s tree was donated by Rozann Schmidtke, Mike Mankey and Synda Bunting, owners of Salon Concepts. Again this year, as they have done for the past 15 years, Mudrack Tree Services placed the Christmas Tree into its position.
Recognizing the difficulties that the year 2020 has imposed upon the community, this year’s theme for the 16th annual Christmas On Broadway is titled, “We Need a Little Christmas, Right this Very Minute!”
A section of Broadway between Creighton and Park avenues will be closed Friday evening from 5:30-6:30 p.m. The tree lighting will be televised. The public is invited to line the sidewalks on both sides of Broadway. “We are fortunate that there is a straight line of sight from Broadway and Creighton looking south to the Broadway Plaza, allowing all of the spectators to have a full view of the Christmas Tree and fireworks lighting all along the five block route,” said Steve Shine, a partner in the sponsoring Shine & Hardin law firm.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will travel the parade route atop a classic 1976 Pierce Fire Engine. The fire engine was decommissioned from a fire department in Wisconsin and was purchased in 2013 by Brian Bauer, president of IU Health Fort Wayne and co-owner of Umi Fort Wayne, one of the sponsors of Christmas On Broadway.
“Brian’s generosity in allowing the use of his fire engine to benefit the community is well known,” said Shine, in that local charities have raised over $40,000.00 where the fire engine is used during charitable events. “We hope that the sight of Santa and Mrs. Claus riding atop a classic vehicle that is part of Americana will lift the spirits of those along the parade route.”