Blue Jacket, Inc. has expanded a holiday tradition yet again and is keeping some fan favorites. The Fort Wayne-based nonprofit is kicked off the Fantasy of Lights, the largest drive-thru light display in the Midwest. The return of Santa and his Christmas Village is also located at the beginning of the route.
For the sixth year in a row, Blue Jacket is “putting its mission on full display” by hiring its clients who graduated from the Blue Jacket Academy. This year, Blue Jacket hired over 40 people to set up, tear down, and host the nightly event that runs until New Year’s Eve. The setup, teardown, and maintenance is a 7-month endeavor.
The event was opened to the public on Nov. 19 with the grand tradition of “flipping the switch” by turning on the lights with an honored Blue Jacket client success story. The event features over 166 display scenes made up of over 550 pieces, 36 more than in 2021, including 9 new, large display scenes.
Blue Jacket is in its 9th year operating the Fantasy of Lights, which is now in its 29th season overall. Since Blue Jacket adopted the event from the AWS Foundation in 2015, it has nearly tripled in size and scope.
Blue Jacket, Inc. is always happy to support the season of giving by offering 6 free admission evenings to special groups as well as a ‘Pay What You Want’ night for the public.
Admission is $15 per personal vehicle, with full size vans at $30 and full-size buses at $60.
Every feature of the Fantasy of Lights is to make it a destination for memories rather than just a drive-thru experience, so the entire family is excited to attend. This year includes many new, fun, light-hearted displays; the kid’s favorite free candy cane challenge to find “Elsie,” the hidden green elephant; and several theme nights for people who like to celebrate the season. Children who visit with Santa can help decorate the gingerbread wall and sip on free hot cocoa provided by Blue Jacket.
The Fantasy of Lights will open at 5:30 p.m. nightly.
Blue Jacket’s special theme and free nights are as follows:
Nov. 24 – Santa’s Christmas Village opens- Sponsored by ProFed and Fort Wayne Elks Lodge #155
The Christmas Village is open until Dec. 22, providing guests the opportunity to visit Santa, shop, and enjoy tasty treats. Located at the Pond Pavilion.
Nov. 27 – First Responders Night – Sponsored by Materials Handling Equipment – Any First Responder in a fire, ambulatory, or public safety role gets in FREE with Employment ID.
Dec. 4 – Decorate Your Car Night – Preferred Automotive Group – Those who decorate their car in a holiday theme get in for FREE.
Dec. 11 – Nursing Home Night – Sponsored by Fort Wayne Elks Lodge #155 – We love our residents cared for in facilities, so any logo-branded Nursing Home vehicle gets in for FREE.
Dec. 14 – 3 Rivers Velo Sports Bike Night- Members of this group will be escorted through the route as a brightly decorated collective of bicycles.
Dec. 18 – Teacher Night – Sponsored by Star Financial Bank – Teachers get in for FREE with Teaching ID.
Dec. 23 – Santa’s Christmas Village closes – Last night of the village before Santa heads back to the North Pole to prepare for Christmas Eve.
Dec. 26 – Four-Legged Night – Sponsored by Dr. & Mrs. Ed McKaig & Humane Fort Wayne – All cars with a four-legged (pet) friend get in for FREE and will receive a special treat from Humane Fort Wayne.
Dec. 31 – FINAL Night | Pay What You Want Night – All cars may choose the amount they would like to pay to enter.
Santa’s Christmas Village is located next to the Pond Pavilion just after paying at the gate. There will be food and craft vendors, multiple photo opportunities, and all the sights, sounds, and smells of a rustic, historic Christmas Village.
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 and touts an average 90% employment rate. Blue Jacket believes in giving the underdog a fighting chance, in building community, and partnering with the highest level of excellence. In 2023, Blue Jacket was named the nonprofit of the year by Greater Fort Wayne and a 2023 Charity of Integrity Finalist by the Better Business Bureau Serving Northern Indiana.