Downtown window wonders

December 25, 2018

Holiday window decorating was a tradition that had all but disappeared from downtown Fort Wayne, but like many things being revived in the city, so has the Downtown Holiday Window Decorating Contest.

This year’s theme was Holiday Jukebox, which required entrants to decorate windows to match a popular holiday tune.

The contest included three juried categories: most thematic, most Fort Wayne and best at night. For the people’s choice category, the Fort Wayne community could vote on the Downtown Fort Wayne website.

In the fourth year of the annual contest, 32 businesses and organizations competed, with JK O’Donnell’s, BND Commercial, Keller Williams Fort Wayne and Sunshine Home Health Care all claiming first place.

Winners were announced Dec. 15.

When the contest was created in 2015, the Downtown Improvement District wanted to highlight the nostalgic part of the holidays and to incorporate something with Night of Lights, events and programming manager Rick Zolman said.

“Kind of, for a moment, it takes someone who is in their 50s, 60s, maybe 70s or 80s, back to their childhood and kind of brings them back to those happy memories of the holidays and being in downtown Fort Wayne, when things were quite a bit different,” he said.

JK O’Donnell’s transformed its windows into a stained-glass mosaic depicting the Christmas carol “Good King Wencelas.”

“We like to be involved with the community, and we picked a carol that reflected charity work,” Jane Goebel said. “Like ‘Good King Wencelas,’ our theme is about giving to other people.”

The pub won the most thematic category, which Goebel, a manager, attributes to having artists on staff.

“We really like to decorate for the holidays,” she said. “I feel like it makes it feel even more home-like here.”

Sunshine Home Health Care, which took home first place for people’s choice and second place for most Fort Wayne, used the window decorating as a team-building exercise in the office.

The staff chose the song “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and made claymation figurines to pay homage to the film.

About two weeks were spent decorating the window, which features Santa flying over the health center. On either side of the display is a naughty-or-nice list featuring the staff’s names.

″(Winning) was a surprise, but we’re happy,” said Beth Ecenbarger, the health center’s vice president. “We’re really just proud of how our window turned out, especially since we had a lot of different techniques.”

BND Commercial’s window claimed most Fort Wayne as it channeled “Silver Bells,” and Keller Williams Fort Wayne was chosen for best at night.

As for next holiday season, each of this year’s winners said they look forward to participating again.

For Zolman, the hardest part every year is coming up with a theme to outdo the previous year.

“We literally have a list, and we’ll see what happens between now and next year as far as things that might happen in the world, or that are newsworthy, that we could find some sort of theme to go along with that,” Zolman said.


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