Christmas traditions begin

November 16, 2018 GMT

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, it is time for Christmas traditions to begin rolling out in Fort Wayne.

Festival of Trees

There will be 65 displays filling the Embassy Theatre and Indiana Hotel for the 34th Festival of Trees, beginning Wednesday and running through Nov. 28

This year’s festival theme is “White Christmas,” and trees have titles such as “The Blizzard of ’78,” “It’s a White Christmas on Sesame Street” and “Blanc Noel in New Orleans.”

“I’m always impressed with the ability to infuse the decorations with nostalgia,” says John Hughey, chief marketing officer for Embassy Theatre, 125 W. Jefferson Blvd.


The theme comes from the classic movie of the same name, which will be shown with festival admission at the Embassy on Thanksgiving. The movie wraps up the theater’s 90th anniversary film series, which Hughey says has been so popular that more movies are planned for 2019.

Festival of Trees visitors will hear music and other entertainment while checking out the displays. The Grande Page pipe organ will be played at various times throughout the event and choirs and dance groups will perform. For a full schedule of performances and festival hours, go to fwembassytheatre.org/festival-of-trees.

Tickets are 4 for ages 4 to 12 and free for ages 3 and younger. The festival is a fundraiser for the Embassy.

“It is very much a community endeavor,” Hughey says of putting on the festival. “Everyone comes together from decorating the trees to sponsoring the trees, and then our volunteer corps that is here welcoming everyone to the theater. It is an enormous community event.”

Festival of Gingerbread

The number of entries registered for the 33rd annual Festival of Gingerbread went up this year, but the final count of displays won’t be done until the displays are finished rolling into the History Center today.

That’s because tragedy can always strike during transport, leaving someone going home with crumbs instead of delivering a towering treat. But the majority of pieces make it through transit, says Todd Maxwell Pelfrey, executive director of the History Center.

So, as long as people are careful, “we should have a really, really strong showing for the number of houses this year,” he says.

The festival has a preview from 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesday for Night of Lights with special admission of $3 per person. The festival officially opens Nov. 23 and runs though Dec. 9.

“This is one of the grandest times of each year to visit the History Center,” Pelfrey says. “Because not only do we have this fantastic, really engaging family holiday tradition in the Festival of Gingerbread, but all of the permanent exhibits and all of the other displays throughout the museum are available for guests to see.”


There will be several special events, including storytelling, cookie decorating and “Science of Sugary Structures” presented by Science Central. Admission is free from 5 to 9 p.m. Nov. 27.

Regular museum admission is 4 for ages 65 and older, $4 for ages 3 to 17, free for ages 2 and younger. There are additional fees for some of the special activities. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. The museum, 302 E. Berry St., is closed Thanksgiving Day.

For the full Festival of Gingerbread schedule, go to fwhistorycenter.com.

Night of Lights

Downtown Fort Wayne will be lit up during Night of Lights on Wednesday. Here is the schedule:

5:45 p.m. : History Center turret lighting, Barr Street

5:55 p.m. : Christ Child Festival Nativity, Ross Building on Main Street

6 p.m. : Aunt Millie’s Northern Lights, Pearl Street

6:05 p.m. : Community Center Santa’s Workshop display, Main Street

6:20 p.m. : Santa and his reindeer, Main and Calhoun streets

6:40 p.m. : Ash Brokerage illumination, Harrison and Berry streets

7 p.m. : Wells Fargo display and Indiana Michigan Power wreath, I&M Power Center Plaza

7:15 p.m. : Botanical Conservatory and Embassy Theatre window display, Jefferson Boulevard

7:30 p.m. : Ringing of the bells, Allen County Public Library and downtown churches

8 p.m. : Fireworks, Parkview Field (north gate closes at 7:45 p.m.)

More to do

Christmas on Broadway: Tree lighting at 5:30 p.m. today with fireworks over Broadway Plaza at Broadway and Beaver Avenue. The free event includes family activities, refreshments and reindeer petting.

“Victorian Holiday”: The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory draws on history for its annual Christmas exhibit, which opens Tuesday. The conservatory also has its gardens decorated with lights for the holiday season beginning Wednesday. Extended holiday hours begin Thanksgiving Day and continue through Dec. 21. For hours, admission prices and details of more holiday events at the conservatory, go to www.botanicalconservatory.org.

Fantasy of Lights: The drive-thru light display at Franke Park opens Tuesday and runs through the end of the year. The cost is 20 per 15-passenger van and $40 per bus or trolley. It is open 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, go to facebook.com/BJIFantasyOfLights.