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People fill up Main Street to see the lighting of Santa and his reindeer. Many residents had walked from the lighting of the Northern Lights at Aunt Millie’s. Other downtown activities Wednesday included the lighting of the Wells Fargo display and fireworks at Parkview Field.

Mild night draws big crowd to see lights

Photos by Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
People gather to see the lighting of Santa and his reindeer on the PNC building downtown on Wednesday night.

Spring-like weather enticed throngs of people to venture into downtown Fort Wayne for a night of holiday revelry on Thanksgiving Eve.

The illumination of Santa and his reindeer lights at PNC Tower resulted in a sardine-packed crowd on Main Street and in the PNC parking lot.

Santa Claus and his reindeer have decorated the side of the PNC building every Thanksgiving and Christmas since 1979.

Colleen and Dick Linn of Decatur started taking their daughters to see the lights when the display featuring Santa and his reindeer hung on the former Wolf & Dessauer department downtown.

This year Colleen Linn, 85, continued the family tradition with her two daughters, Nancy Linn and Cathee Graves, her granddaughter, Kimberly Hurst, and her two great-grandchildren Zoee, 13, and Avree, 14.

Sadly, her husband could not attend, as he is in ill health, Linn said.

And ironically, Linn’s son-in-law – Cathee’s husband – could not attend the event because he was working with electrical crews in Decatur to prepare for the city’s lighting ceremony on Sunday, Linn said.

Nearby, in the PNC parking lot, a group of jean-clad teenage girls in furry Santa hats giggled and danced to the Christmas tunes, enjoying the festivities.

Carm Myers, Mackenzie Joefreda, Alyssa Gross, Abbey Keele and Lindsey Sharp – all freshmen at Leo High School – have been attending the event for years with Sharp’s parents, Bryan and Deb.

Bryan Sharp recited the night’s action-filled agenda.

“We eat at Clara’s, come to the lighting, go to the Embassy’s Festival of Trees, watch the fireworks from the baseball field and on the way home stop by the light show at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo,” Sharp said.

“Don’t forget McDonald’s for ice cream on the way home,” one of the girls interjected.