Have you ever attended a large event in Waynedale? If you have, you may not have realized that you were a part of something special and unique not found anywhere else in Fort Wayne.
For as long as most people can remember, Waynedale has held a Memorial Day Parade, attracting over a thousand people to line Old Trail Road to celebrate and honor the holiday. Throughout the past 16 years, Waynedale has held the Waynedale Community Picnic which feeds free lunch and provides entertainment to over 2,000 guests for the day. And new this year, EMBARK, a community-wide celebration of sidewalks and trails on Bluffton Road is taking place.
You may be saying to yourself, “Well yeah, just look at downtown, they hold larger and more frequent events than we have. What makes Waynedale events so special?” The answer to that question lies within the community members and businesses that make it happen.
Waynedale has a unique culture of individuals, businesses and organizations who provide funding, prizes and volunteer time to make these and other community events possible. But, it may not be as well-known that these events aren’t funded by a grant or some form of government funding. Regardless, this doesn’t hold Waynedale back from attracting people from other communities or bringing our community together through these free events.
To hold just one of these events, it takes hundreds of hours from dedicated individuals from within our community and thousands of dollars from local businesses. For example, this weekend’s community event EMBARK, which will be held on Saturday, July 21 from noon to 4pm, is free for anyone to participate and has been made possible by a committee of community members who have designed the event and collected donations from over 40 businesses in the area.
Committee Chair for EMBARK and organizer of many other events in the area, Camille Garrison commented, “Many of these free events in Waynedale are designed without any other motive than to bring people together, and that’s what community is about. I think we are very blessed to have businesses in our area who support this idea. And I am so thankful that our community volunteers believe it’s important too. Without all of these people in the community coming together to make events new and old continue from year-to-year, Waynedale would be very bland.”
An annual event, the Waynedale Community Picnic is coming next month on Saturday, August 25 from 10am to 3pm. Throughout the day of the event, the Picnic organizers coordinate about 40 volunteers. But previous to the event, the committee receives donations from over 100 businesses to support the day of fun.
Megan Ryan, Lead Organizer of Waynedale’s largest event, The Waynedale Community Picnic, knows all too well what it takes to make the event happen. “The smiles are what make it worth for me after months of working on the event. From the food to the prizes to the time from volunteers and everything in-between, it’s all donated. Not every community has the volunteers and businesses who care enough to offer their resources to make it a great day for our thousands of guests, and I think that is very special.”
Ryan said that the average financial donation to the Picnic is just $60 and that most businesses are proud to support the event from year to year. She said, “Even small donations help add up to go towards the large cost to hold the event. However, there are also some large dollar donors that assist with funding. Each business knows what they can afford and we’re thankful for anything they are willing to give in support of the day of community togetherness.”
So, the next time you’re at an event in Waynedale, take a moment to reflect on how truly awesome it is to belong to a community that cares about bringing people together. Don’t forget to say “thanks for your time” to any volunteers you might see. And the next time you visit a local business that was on the event sponsor list, let them know how much it means to you that they supported an event that you enjoyed.
Waynedale is a jewel in Fort Wayne, rich with unique opportunities that not everyone else can say they have in their community. Together a community makes positivity and great things happen.