Meet the creative genius behind Disney’s Frozen

If you haven’t seen the movie Frozen, you likely know a kid or two who has. The 2013 Disney film is the highest grossing animated film and number-five movie of all time. Crazy!

It’s clear the Frozen fever hasn’t thawed. (Pardon the pun.) Little girls everywhere seem to own a princess costume or two. And the soundtrack has gained a lot of attention, too. IMG 1715 v01Chris Buck 200x300 Meet the creative genius behind Disneys FrozenIf you’re looking for a family-friendly way to celebrate this Disney hit, mark your calendar for October 4-5.

University of Saint Francis and Cinema Center are partnering to present a weekend of events with Disney’s Academy Award-winning director, Chris Buck.   The public is invited to a Frozen screening that evening at 7 p.m., Here’s the best part: Director Chris Buck will engage in a sing-along immediately following the film. Get ready to sing your lungs out! 

And for parents interested in hearing about what went into creating such a hit, there is a lecture following the Saturday screening. Then Sunday at 1 pm is another chance to get up close and personal with this creative genius, at another lecture.  The lecture is designed for high school and college students interested in pursuing a career in animation, film, and computer arts.  This lecture is free and open to the public. The USF Robert Goldstine Performing Arts Center is located at 431 W. Berry St. in Fort Wayne. Complimentary parking is available across Berry Street from the center.

Although the events do not take place at Cinema Center proper, it is worth mentioning this great arts organization. This 30-some year old independent movie house located in the heart of downtown Fort Wayne shows films shows a variety of programming you can’t find anywhere else in this area. Films range from artsy to intelligent, and sometimes just downright funny. You can also catch a good foreign film there, too.  Put simply, there is something for everyone. Check out their weekly schedule to see what’s playing. In addition to films, the theater also offers regular events and educational opportunities throughout the year to engage the community. Check out their website for more information.


Lauren Caggiano was raised in Fort Wayne, and returned in 2007 upon graduation from the University of Dayton. The president of WriteOn LLC, she specializes in writing, marketing, and French translation. In her spare time she enjoys travelling, yoga and volunteering. In the summer you can catch her riding around downtown on her vintage green Schwinn. For more information, check out her website:

A Fall Farewell to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo

The shortening summer days blend into autumn so quickly – where did the summer go?

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Twin fountains in the Zoo’s pond sparkle in the autumn sunlight.

Fortunately, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is open until October 12, so there is plenty of time to enjoy the changing seasons in the crisp outdoors.

The nice thing about visiting the Zoo in October is that it’s a little more relaxed. Strollers crunch through piles of crisp leaves. Jackets are tossed casually around shoulders, and the popcorn stand is a little more popular than ice cream cone venders. The animals are active, enjoying the cooler temperatures and softer, less direct sunlight.

And, when you visit the Zoo in mid-October, you’ll see tons of pumpkins and gourds decorating the walkways and animal habitats. If you’re a pumpkin fan, you’ll love seeing all the different types here – green, white, orange, knobby, smooth, tiny and large. Slowly, a peacock will strut behind the bushes, craftily eyeing the pedestrians. Then, with a lo-o-ng reach of his emerald neck, the bird pecks a large chunk out of a gourd and retreats to the hidden safety of another bush. Yes, the pumpkins are popular.

In the Indonesian Rain Forest, the Prevost’s Squirrel – so cute with his multi-colored fur – hops onto a branch and samples a fresh food tray of fruit. With his fluffy coat and capacious jaws, he seems to be storing up for the winter.

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See the zebras? Cooler weather and golden leaves bring out the best in the animals at the zoo.

Strolling through the African Journey is so pleasant. The tall grasses have turned to gold. Some of the flowers – mums especially – are blooming in spicy glory. And the meandering streams wander gently around the sidewalks. The zebras are placid, eyeing visitors as though this is really nothing new. And the giraffes blend in with the changing deciduous leaves. It’s almost as if they are having a fashion show in gold, yellow and tan!

Riding the Australian log boats is fun. When your ride slips through the tunnels of leafy branches, everything is tinged with a musty sweetness. The kangaroos in their tasteful coats look like they’re preparing for cooler weather.

The great big pond in the center of the zoo has Mother Goose perched there, in a ruffled bonnet. Gazing out over the pond, you see the shimmering twin fountains and happy ducks, waddling towards the duck feed vending machines. Tinged-yellow leaves float on the water, lapping gently at the shore. A pumpkin or two has rolled down the slopes. Over at the petting zoo, goats crowd about and nibble at tasty handouts. The smell of wood smoke tinges the air, lending a tang of colder temperatures to the sunshine.

By mid-October, the weather is in a changing way. Some weekends will be nippy and rainy, while others are gloriously sunny and warm. The last weekend the Zoo is open is usually filled with sunshine and cool, light-jacket weather. You might want to bring a light sweater if you’re there in the morning but by afternoon, the Zoo has become comfortable and warm. It’s a great way to experience some of autumn’s finest offerings in one of Fort Wayne’s friendliest places.



Louisa is a lifelong Fort Wayne resident. A long-time musician and literature aficionado, Louisa likes to explore the classical music offerings that Fort Wayne has to offer. (She also likes to browse the Allen County Public Library's stacks for just the right book!)

Combine Education & Fun at Johnny Appleseed Festival!

The official start of the school year has begun for most of the Fort Wayne area. I work in a school and its already time for mid-term grades to be issued!

What I like as a parent and educator is that learning can happen anywhere, anytime. In my opinion historic festivals are a good use of a family’s time. That is definitely the case with the Johnny Appleseed Festival. This year’s dates: Saturday, September 20 (10am-6pm) and Sunday, September 21(10am-5pm).

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Re-enactors teach kids about life in the 1700s.

This is the 40th anniversary of this fun and FREE festival in which every part from cooking ham and beans over an open fire to re-enactors wearing wool clothing represents life as it would have been during Johnny Appleseed’s era.

It’s not a coincidence that the festival’s namesake has a burial site at the festival’s location. After a visit to the grave, my family always ventures from one end of the festival to the other, not wanting to miss anything.

There is a play area for younger children with games, straw maze and historic fun activities, such as dipping candles. My kids enjoyed watching and listening to re-enactors who stayed in character throughout the festival to inform visitors of what life was like during the 1700s.

We’ve talked to soldiers, watched wives of soldiers sew uniforms, and chat with trappers to discover what its like to live rough on the land.

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Bagpipes add unique sound to the festival.

We’ve listened to cannons being fired, drum and fife corps and bagpipes being played throughout the days.

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Drum & Fife Corps march through the festival grounds.

Then there’s the food. Every appetite is stimulated by smells that waft on the breeze on the festival’s grounds. Naturally, the emphasis is on products made from apples so cider, apple dumplings, apple fritters, caramel apples, fried apple slices with cinnamon are present. I’m salivating just thinking about them!

Caramel corn, ham and beans, pork sandwiches, turkey legs, lemonade and other goodies are everywhere, making it easy to find food when a family member begins to complain about an empty stomach.

Insider tip: I like parking at the Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne (IPFW) lot as the festival provides free rides on a shuttle back and forth. Parking is also available in the Memorial Coliseum lot for a small fee. It might be worth it to pay to park close if you have children as your group will probably be weary after your travel back in time.

So bring your curiosity about our nation’s past, adventurous spirit and taste buds to the Johnny Appleseed Festival. And if you see Johnny, tell him we’re glad he made Ft Wayne his final home.

1502 Harry Baals Dr.
Fort Wayne, IN  46805

FROM I-69: Take Exit 309A south to Coliseum Blvd (US 930) and turn left. Pass Parnell Avenue and Memorial Coliseum. Festival grounds are located behind the Coliseum.


Kayleen Reusser has written children’s books and had stories in Chicken Soup books. She writes features for the News-Sentinel newspaper and profiles for the Ossian Sun Riser. She loves to travel and write about her experiences at her website:

Eagle Marsh – Fall Program Guide

Eagle Marsh, a part of the Little River Wetlands Project,  is a 716-acre wetland preserve located on the southwest border of Fort Wayne. Eight miles of trails allow hikers to access the preserve’s varied habitats of shallow-water wetland,with almost 200 kinds of birds and numerous other wild creatures including bald eagles.

If you haven’t had a chance to get to the Marsh this summer, don’t worry. The fall schedule is packed with opportunities. Below are some highlights.

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The Monarch Festival will be here soon!

2014 Monarch Festival

Saturday, September 13

11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Do you love getting up close with beautiful butterflies? This may be the event for you! Grab your kids, your friends or anyone else so-inclined and meet at the Eagle Marsh barn. The festival is family-friendly, with lots of educational and hands-on activities.  There will also be hikes, live demonstrations, crafts and games.  As a bonus, you can choose to plant a milkweed (Monarchs love them!) at the Marsh or take one home to plant in your own garden.


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Fall Woods of Eagle Marsh

Fall Woods of Eagle Marsh

Saturday, October 4

9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Again starting off from the Eagle Marsh barn, this fun fall program is for kids of all ages, even the youngsters in their seventies. Do you know why leaves change colors in the fall? Why they’re sometimes more vibrant? Come find out! Also, learn how exactly the animals know that winter is approaching.  There are signs you can spot, if you know what you’re looking for!  And no trip to the Marsh is complete without a nice hike.

Tip: Boots are recommended, and depending on the weather, a jacket might be good.


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Speaking of short legs…

The Short Hikes for Short Legs programs are especially for the little ones ages three to five.

Wednesday, September 17 – Why Wetlands are Amazing!

Sunday, October 5 – Fall Changes

9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.


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Some Ramblers caught in the act

For those of us just a little bit older who would like to hike around the Marsh from time to time, think about becoming a Little River Rambler! Ramblers meet at the Marsh once a week, on Tuesdays, and can choose a morning or evening hike, or both.


9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (March and July meetings will be at Arrowhead Prairie.)

5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.


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The Fifth Annual Frogapalooza is October 24.

Fifth Annual Frogapalooza Benefit

Friday, October 24

6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

“The mission of the Little River Wetlands Project is to restore and protect wetlands in the watershed of the Little River, a major tributary of the Wabash River, and to provide educational opportunities that encourage good stewardship of wetlands and other natural ecosystems.”

Eagle Marsh is a treasure for Fort Wayne and the surrounding communities, and those of us who enjoy it are called to support it, as the Marsh survives by our generosity and the generosity of others.

This year’s Frogapalooza will be the fifth annual for the Little River Wetlands Project.  Details are still being finalized, but the benefit will be held at the Fort Wayne Country Club and  will honor Jay Jorgensen and Rick Phillips as “Hidden Heroes of Conservation.”  Guests will enjoy an auction, dinner and more. Check here for updates as they become available.

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Support the Little River Wetlands Project

Eagle Marsh is located at 7209 Engle Road, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 46804.

Click here and check out a great overview video.

Bookmark this page to keep up-to-date on all of the goings-on year-round!


Wendy Sack


Born and bred in Alabama, Wendy has lived in Fort Wayne for just over 12 years, calling historic Williams-Woodland Park home. Asked to describe herself, Wendy is quick to throw out the terms grammar geek, voracious reader, Jim Gaffigan nut and Alabama Crimson Tide football fanatic. Often found with a Diet Coke in one hand and a book in the other, Wendy’s true passion is her family. She is a wife, a mother of two and is always looking for new and adventurous things to do in and around Fort Wayne. Wendy finds humor easily in any situation and is a true believer that laughter really does cure anything.

Maker Faire provides a different perspective on STEM

It’s not every day kids are encouraged to ditch their screens in exchange for a few hours of unbridled creativity and exploration.  Maker Faire, an annual festival which encourages families to MAKE, create, learn, invent, CRAFT, recycle, think, play and be inspired by celebrating arts, crafts, engineering, food, music, science and technology.

Join fellow inventors and (aspiring ones) September 13-14, 2014 under the Lincoln Pavilion at Headwaters Park East for this 4th annual event that is gaining more and more momentum each year.

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Join local artist Eran Park as he blows glass at Maker Faire 2014.

This event is made possible by TekVenture, a 501(c)(3) public art and technology laboratory seeking a home near downtown. Their goal is to create a public intersect on between imagination, technology, art & community – a space where arts, tinkerers, makers, engineers, inventors, prototypers, craftspeople, and others gather to use tools, share ideas and make things. These “makers” represent a movement happening all across the United States.

In the last few years, similar informal facilities designed to bring groups of people together to use traditional and high-tech tools to solve engineering problems and to create art, technology, and other projects have blossomed worldwide.

While searching for a permanent home, the organizers created this event to serve as a fundraiser and to celebrate and connect these creative people and the things they make. After all, knowledge is best shared. Why not harness the passion from makers around the world through a local event? That philosophy is what drives the organizers every year.

Speaking of making, you can expect to encounter some impressive displays of skill, talent and ingenuity. For example, on this year’s schedule of events are a BMX and rocket launch demonstration. A variety of hands-on activities, like glassblowing, rocket making, and aircraft assembly are planned. This weekend provides a real opportunity to get up close and personal with science.  It’s never too early to introduce your kids to STEM.

Get your tickets in advance and save.  Tickets are available via Eventbrite or buy them at the door with cash or credit card (MasterCard, VISA, Discover.)


Lauren Caggiano was raised in Fort Wayne, and returned in 2007 upon graduation from the University of Dayton. The president of WriteOn LLC, she specializes in writing, marketing, and French translation. In her spare time she enjoys travelling, yoga and volunteering. In the summer you can catch her riding around downtown on her vintage green Schwinn. For more information, check out her website: