People danced and moved to the music as they waited for the 48-foot Christmas tree to light up at Jefferson Pointe, opening the holiday season at the outdoor shopping mall.
Between 3,000 and 4,000 people walked or stood in the mall's village-like setting Saturday, ready to kick off the Christmas season. To make it picture perfect, the sky was clear and the weather crisp at around 40 degrees.
The tree-lighting ceremony is a tradition that dates to 2002, a year after Jefferson Pointe opened for business, Brian Cote, general manager, said. Lutheran Hospital and Vera Bradley sponsored the nighttime event.
In the crowd were Myra and Matt Hartman of Columbia City, attending the tree-lighting ceremony for the first time, they said. They brought along their two boys, Levi, 3, and Kian, 1, and Myra's mother, Betty Wilkinson.
“He'll like the pretty lights,” Myra said of Kian who was bundled up in a stroller while Levi had his father running around after him.
“This year will be a hard year for my mom,” Myra said, referring to the loss of her father and Betty's husband. “We're just trying to keep her spirits up and celebrate family.”
Positioned in front of the Von Maur department store and surrounded by smaller trees with seasonal lighting, the artificial tree is billed as Fort Wayne's tallest Christmas tree and is the main feature in nightly light and music shows from 6 to 11 p.m.
Santa will be available from Nov. 29 through Dec. 24 next to the Mainstream Boutique across from Eddie Bauer, according to a news release.