Let’s start by admitting that groundbreakings are purely ceremonial. They contribute about as much to the actual work of construction as Healthcare.gov appears to be contributing to signing people up for healthcare, or even less.
And as social affairs go, groundbreakings can also be a disaster: They force people in suits and uncomfortable shoes onto construction sites, which is never a good idea. And for what? To turn one shovel of dirt in front of a bulldozer that can scrape the entire site clean in one swipe.
Thankfully, the Fort Wayne Housing Authority decided to skip the charade and take the groundbreaking to where logic should have taken it all along: indoors.
With temperatures in the 20s and snow on the ground, officials moved the groundbreaking for the South Side Senior Villas into FWHA headquarters, which were conveniently located next door. In a nod to tradition, there was a tarp spread on the floor and a pile of dirt on the tarp, but the gold-painted shovels remained leaning against the wall, untouched.
Instead, officials offered a few words of thanks, they posed for a few photos, and everyone got down to the real business of the affair, which was eating lunch. No mud, no cold, no dirty pant legs, no pretending.
And what did people think of the warm, dry ceremony? Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry came away a believer.
“That is a great idea,” he said. “I really like that a lot.”