FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Christmas time is here? Not exactly, but Flagstar Bank is hoping you’ll get in the spirit. The bank is bringing back some Fort Wayne favorites from Christmas past.
Decades ago, downtown was the place to be for Christmas. However, with the closing of a department store and trees being removed from the night, Christmas time changed in the Summit City.
“Christmas in Fort Wayne was Wolf and Dessauer. People would come down and see those display windows, and when they closed in 1979 a little bit of Christmas in Fort Wayne died with them,” says Jim Barron, morning anchor at WBCL and a magician.
Barron co-authored a book about the department store. He says it’s nice to see Night of Lights bring back that nostalgia of Christmas in Fort Wayne.
However, Flagstar bank is taking it a step further. Wee Willlie Wand and Christmas trees are set to make a return.
“The one thing we looked for in planning the tree display was something nostalgic that we could tie back to the 1960s,” says Debbie DeMeritt, Sr. Branch Administrative Assistant at Flagstar Bank.
Debbie says she knows the community was disappointed when the trees were taken away from downtown 10 years ago. Flagstar has purchased two 25-foot trees, they’re wrapped in lights and ornaments will be on display.
One tree will sit on the rotunda at the Indiana Center building on East Wayne, the other over the Skybridge at Wayne and Calhoun. Debbie says even though traditionally the trees were real, they will use artificial trees as it is more eco-friendly.
“We have historically been part of the 7 p.m. hour of the lighting, so following the Santa Claus and right before the Merry Christmas light-up the walkway,” says Debbie.
Now, Flagstar will truly be the connector between the two lights with its Christmas trees and Wee Willie Wand being brought to life, through an actress.
“I”m a 5th generation Fort Wayne native. So the legends of Phil Steigerwald as Santa Claus and Wee Willie Wand at Wolf and Dessauer was a family legend. And my aunt was, acted as one of his elves at Wolf and Dessauer. So, I’ve heard lots about it. Being born in ’87, I never got to experience it, but I’ve heard lots of stories,” says Chrissy Borne Weadick, an actress with Fort Wayne Civic Theatre.
If you plan on attending Night of Lights, Chrissy, or Wee Willie Wand will be passing out candy, and educating anyone on the history of the elf.
WANE 15 is a proud partner of Night of Lights.