Following another banner year in 2021, Blue Jacket is expanding some new fan favorites. The Fort Wayne-based nonprofit, now in its 8th year running the area’s most popular holiday event, promises new displays and an expanded footprint for the return of the open-air Santa’s Christmas Market, which will be at the beginning of the route this year.
The Fantasy of Lights, now in its 28th season, traditionally kicks off on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, but opened to the public this year a few days early on Nov. 20. Admission remains $10 per car to experience the nearly 2-mile route, which will feature over 150 scenes made up of over 450 pieces; 25 more than in 2021. There are additional fees for 12+ passenger vans and busses.
Every improvement has the intention to make the Fantasy of Lights a destination and not just a drive through experience, so the entire family is excited to attend. This year has many new, fun, light-hearted displays, the kid’s favorite free candy cane challenge to find “Permy” the hidden giraffe, and a number of free admission and themed nights for people who like to celebrate the season. Blue Jacket even teamed up with Humane Fort Wayne to provide dog biscuits for furry friends.
The Fantasy of Lights drive-thru will continue to open earlier at 5:30 p.m. to help alleviate traffic congestion.
Blue Jacket’s special theme and free nights are as follows:
• Dec. 5 – Decorate Your Car (with the Holiday Spirit) Night: Those who decorate their car get in for FREE. Sponsored by Old National Bank.
• Dec. 12 – Nursing Home Night: Any logo-branded Nursing Home vehicle gets in for FREE. Sponsored by Carter Lumber.
• Dec. 15 – 3 Rivers Velo Sports Bike Night.
• Dec. 19 – Teacher Night: All teachers get in for FREE with valid ID. Sponsored by Star Financial Bank.
• Dec. 26 – Four-Legged Night: All cars with a four-legged (pet) friend get in for FREE. Sponsored by ProFed.
• Dec. 31 – FINAL Night | Pay What You Want Night allows patrons to choose the amount they would like to pay to enter.
For the fifth year in a row, Blue Jacket is “putting its mission on full display” by hiring its clients. Blue Jacket began to use paid, transitional employees who graduated from our 2-week Blue Jacket Academy program and averages about 18 clients to help setup, teardown, and manage the nightly operations. Each year, 100% of those transitional clients became full-time employed in community-based jobs because of the opportunity Fantasy of Lights gave them.
Blue Jacket, Inc.’s mission is to provide the tools and opportunities to any adult with a barrier to employment who is striving to earn a chance at gainful employment. Blue Jacket believes no adult should have a barrier to work. Blue Jacket touts an average 90% employment rate and provides a number of in-house jobs to help clients get back on their feet, including hiring them to work at Fantasy of Lights.