Santa with a Sleigh Full of Toys lead by his Reindeer

Wolf & Dessauer – History of the Christmas Lights

This fabulous display is part of the Thanksgiving Eve lighting ceremonies that have occurred in downtown Fort Wayne for years.   (Sorry for the bad resolution; was taken with a camera phone at night) .    If you are in Fort Wayne from Thanksgiving until Christmas, this is a must see destination.

The display has been on the back side of what is now the PNC Building facing Main Street in Fort Wayne since 1980.   It is about 25 feet tall and consists of around 33 pieces and is usually put up over the course of a few days before lighting.   When I worked at what is now PNC I liked to sometimes go out and watch during my lunch 1/2 as it really is an engineering feat.

It was originally displayed on the Wolf & Dessauer Department Store building that had been on Calhoun Street beginning around 1940 (some sites report that is was as early as 1937 )  and  Wolf & Dessauer – History of the Christmas Lights reports that during World War II the lights on the display were not light up to not only conserve energy, but not to be a target for enemy planes.

While it might be hard to believe in today’s day and age, my mother grew up during World War II and bombs via an air raid were such a concern that there were practice “blackout drills” where all houses and businesses were to “black out” and turn off or hide every light source so an enemy plane would not be able to find targets to bomb.   The military would fly a plane over the town and would drop bags of flour on any house or building where there were lights and then would report places that were flour bombed.

It also spent a few years on the  Dessauer Department Store in Huntington  and went out of commission in 1959 when the Fort Wayne building was sold  and put into storage for 30 years until found by  a GTE phone installer, until revived years later for a promotion for Christmas at the Zoo.

It also got a ” Green makeover” where nearly 25,000 lights with energy efficient LED lights which cost $70,000 (paid for by PNC Bank) but reduced energy consumption by  90%.

From the time  Kyle was a baby until early grade school, he I used to take him in his Little Tykes wagon on Thanksgiving Eve to watch the light up displays with the lighting of Santa and his reindeer as the grand finale.   The year his Dad took in in 1998 when he was five,  he ended being interviewed on the evening news as his face and excitement was as lit up as the display.

I hope someday to take my grandchildren to continue on this tradition.

Sources:

Wolf & Dessauer – History of the Christmas Lights

Downtown “Santa and his sleigh” display is going ‘green’

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One comment on “Santa with a Sleigh Full of Toys lead by his Reindeer”

  1. […] Tonight was the annual lighting of the Santa and Reindeer display for 2015 (previously blogged about the history of the above display here). […]


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