Nothing says romance like a weekend in the Fort

Nothing says romance like a weekend in the Fort.  Why? With so many options for fine dining and art, it’s hard not to fall in love again. Maybe it’s a special anniversary. Or maybe it’s “just because.” Either way, there are plenty of ways to celebrate your love in Fort Wayne. Here are a few of my favorite.

Start with a fine meal. Paula’s on Main has the best seafood I’ve had in this town. You can’t come wrong with splitting an order of their crabcakes as an appetizer. I recommend the fish tacos for the entree. And be sure to ask to sit in Karen’s section. She’ll take care of you. Reservations are recommended on the weekend.

Baker Street always knocks it out of the park. Their menu is impressive, with a variety of vegetarian and gluten-free options. You’ll die for their pretzel bread, too!

Josh Serving Sundaes at AR 300x165 Nothing says romance like a weekend in the Fort No great meal is complete without dessert! We suggest popping into one of DeBrand’s stores to share one of their desserts. I recommend the chocolate lover’s cheesecake–a double layer of silky chocolate cheesecake with a chocolate cookie crust, garnished with chocolate curls and dark chocolate. Yum!

Complement your meal with some art. After you’ve satisfied your palate, it’s time to cater to your artistic side. If you and your partner are Broadway junkies, you’ve come to the right place. You can catch a total of six Broadway productions at our historic Embassy Theatre.

If musicals aren’t your thing, don’t worry. There is plenty else to do to satisfy your artistic itch. The Fort Wayne Civic Theatre never fails to impress.  Presenting a variety of comedies, dramas and Broadway musicals each season, the Civic Theatre showcases outstanding volunteer talent on and off stage.

Any classical music fans out there? The Fort Wayne Philharmonic is a first-class organization. With about 300 performances a year, you’re sure to catch one.

So go ahead…fall in love with each other all over again as you fall in love with our fair city!


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:

Zoo Closing Soon…Or Is it?

As Fall rolls in, virtually everything transforms. From all the kiddos headed back to school to the reemergence of “Pumpkin Spice” flavored everything, Autumn makes it’s presence known quite boldly. While many of us relish this season that is a precursor to the reality of a Midwest Winter, the good people over at Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo are likely to be working harder than ever.

As our famous and beloved zoo here closes up shop very soon, October 12th to be exact, very little changes for the talented and dedicated Zoo Keepers that care for our furry friends. Fort Wayne Children’s zoo is unique in more ways than one. They are one of the few self-sustained zoos nationwide, which means they raise all the funds to keep their doors open to us. This means no tax funding or municipality budget. The fact that it continues to thrive speaks to just how well-loved our zoo is. Another thing that sets our local zoo apart is its seasonal operation. Most zoos are open year-round but as a cost saving measure, The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo closes from mid October until late April. It makes great sense as I cannot imagine a huge crowd showing up to visit Bill the Lion in the middle of a Polar Vortex. Nor would Bill be all too pleased to have to peek his head out under such conditions. Speaking of Bill and company, what does all of this mean for them? When the zoo shuts down this October, what happens next?

My husband said he couldn’t imagine Jelani the Giraffe being sped down a freeway to transport him to a warmer climate. That would be quite a sight to behold. I can just imagine the hashtags Fort Waynians would use on Instagram as they spot Jelani on I-69. I had the pleasure of having an awesome and informative conversation with Cheryl Piropato to get accurate answers. She is the Education & Communications Director of the zoo. It was really enjoyable speaking to her because you could hear such joy in her voice as she answered all my questions about the animals. My first question was,”Where do all the animals get shipped off to once the zoo doors close?” Her answer was complex, so read carefully. “Everybody stays.” What? Well, that sounded simple enough. There is however, one exception to that rule. The ponies. They are owned by a local family in Fort Wayne. The Hooley Family has been operating the pony ride that has brought such glee to our kids for many years. Once the zoo closes, the ponies go home to the Hooleys.

While all the other animals stay on the property, their day-to-day lives vary. The animals spend as much or as little time outdoors as they can tolerate while the temp drops. The lynx is native to Canada so the cold doesn’t pose a problem. Other animals need enclosures built right next to their exhibits. That’s where Bill retreats any time the weather drops below 20 degrees. As for Jelani, he has a barn tall enough to accommodate his incredible height. He has to head indoors as soon as temps drop below 50 degrees. At the rate the September weather is going, he may have some days where he has to go inside before the zoo closes for the season, and I can relate.

Gelani the Giraffe in her barn 178x300 Zoo Closing Soon...Or Is it?

Jelani the Giraffe in his barn.

As a person burdened by a short attention span, I was curious as to how the animals beat the boredom having to spend more time indoors. Cheryl informed me that those hard-working Zoo Keepers I mentioned earlier, provide all sorts of enrichment for them. The time spent indoors allow the Zoo Keepers to have much more quality time with the animals. They focus on training them on everything from moving to different spaces, having their hooves trimmed, and taking their medicine. To keep those brains sharp, there are cool tools the Zoo Keepers use like puzzle feeders that make the animals have to think harder to get their food. The various enrichment activities and training sessions alleviate the boredom.

I was interested to know if the animals ever show signs that they miss the visitors. While the zoo is open, 4-5,000 people are on the property on a daily basis. It has to be a pretty drastic change when this activity comes to a screeching halt. While most of the animals may not mind a bit, those who are more social seem to take notice. The sea lions swim over and show signs of enthusiasm when the occasional person walks by. The orangutans enjoy knowing what personal belongings people are toting around. Cheryl said that she’s observed an orangutan taking great interest in someone removing items from their bag, one by one. I wonder if it’s weird that I would enjoy that too. I mean, you can learn a lot about a person by what’s in their bag so that’s a wise orangutan.

orangutan2 199x300 Zoo Closing Soon...Or Is it?

So, let’s see what’s in that nice bag you’ve got there…

If you had pictured tumbleweed rolling by after October 12th, you may want to guess again. The Admin Office is all abuzz as well. This time is spent planning Zoo programs and events for the upcoming year. The administrators make the magic happen while the Zoo Keepers diligently work at keeping Fort Wayne’s animals healthy, active, and happy.

If you are anything like my family, you get so excited when zoo season is approaching. You’ve still got less than a month to enjoy a few more zoo trips before Jelani retreats to the barn. The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is one more reason to visit Fort Wayne. Whatever you do, don’t fret about the animals having to endure Fall and Winter this year. While you’re sipping those pumpkin lattes, the wallabies are going to have a fine time hopping through the beautiful white snow.

The snow flies when the wallabies start hopping 300x158 Zoo Closing Soon...Or Is it?

Do you want to build a snowman?

Before I go, I HAVE to share a quote. I will always leave you with one I enjoy whether it’s relevant or not because quotes are just great!

“When you are a giraffe and you receive criticism from turtles, they are reporting the view from the level they are on.”- T.D. Jakes

Reesha Howard


Reesha Howard is a Chicago native who fell in love with Fort Wayne and decided to make it home. She is a wife and mother of two and is expecting a third. She is passionate about her family, writing and working with children. As the Co-Owner of Game Day Sports Camp and a homeschooling parent she has a hybrid lifestyle of a working/stay-at-home mother. Her hobbies include unique and fun activities & events catered towards families, improving the awareness and support of Small Businesses, and a life of service to others, particularly within the Fort Wayne community.

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1 Response to "Zoo Closing Soon…Or Is it?"

Wendy Sack
Wendy Sack
September 26th, 2014
Reesha, I loved reading this post! It made me literally laugh out loud. I look forward to reading your posts regularly!

Out of This World Breakfast at Cosmos Restaurants

So the last post I wrote (although not necessarily the last post of mine that you read) was about the Fort4Fitness Fall Festival and, to a lesser extent, about my getting back into shape. Ironic, then, that the subject of this post is…pancakes. Yes, for all my bluster about healthy living, I will always be a sucker for a stack of hotcakes. And the best place in Fort Wayne to find this greatest of breakfast foods (among many other delicious choices) is Cosmos Restaurants; with two locations in town – on Saint Joe Center Road and near Lima and Dupont Roads – you’re never too far from a tasty breakfast.

Serving the Fort Wayne community for almost twenty years, Cosmos has a variety of breakfast (and lunch) items on their menu. To say their menu is typical of most breakfast restaurants is true, to be sure, but it’s the quality of every item on that menu that really makes Cosmos exceptional. Whether you’re having a skillet, French toast, bacon and eggs, or lighter fare, you can guarantee it will be good. I should also mention the amount of food you get. Trust me, you will never leave Cosmos hungry unless you want to.

The Saint Joe Center Road location is open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sundays), while the Lima Road location is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (4:00 p.m. on the weekends). The earlier you get there, the better. I’ve never been to a Cosmos and seen a lot of empty tables. But don’t let that scare you away. It’s a testament to how many people in Fort Wayne love Cosmos. And pancakes. To learn more about the restaurants and to see a full menu, visit



Apart from spending his college years in West Lafayette, Indiana, and Dayton, Ohio, Mike Flohr is a lifetime resident of the Summit City. Today he divides his time among his wife, Megan, his job as a college librarian, and his many geek obsessions.

A two-hour tour of central Fort Wayne

Any time of year, finding something for the kids to do (and those kids can be of any size and age) can sometimes be a challenge. When the weather is beautiful, it’s time to get out of the house and explore your city.

In 1978, Clifford Richards and Pat Boice published an article in the Old Fort News entitled “Two Hour Tour of Fort Wayne Historical Sites”. We offer here a brief overview of the first part of this trip as something to do that will allow you to learn more about the city in which you live.

Begin at the Swinney Homestead on West Jefferson where Jefferson and Washington make the split and become two one-way streets. This home of the Swinney Family was once the home of the Historical Society. The Settlers maintain this property and offer events throughout the year. You can keep up with the Settlers via their website at:

Swinney Homestead 300x200 A two hour tour of central Fort Wayne

Then head down Thieme Drive toward Main. Stop along the way at the marker for the Old Methodist College. OMC was once the center of education in northeast Indiana. In 1893 it moved to Upland, IN and became Taylor University. The marker is right by the river and very close to the turn for Wayne Street.

As you look across the St. Mary’s River, you’re looking at the Camp Allen Area where young men were trained for battle in the Civil War. Camp Allen Park was the location of the first professional baseball game ever played on May 4, 1871. Fort Wayne won. See for more information.

As you come to the intersection of Thieme Drive and West Main, you will see the Aqueduct Marker. This monument, one of a number in Fort Wayne, is dedicated to the young men who swam in the Old Aqueduct. According to the OFN article, “The Aqueduct was a huge covered wooden structure which carried the waters of the Wabash and Erie Canal across the St. Mary’s River. It was located where you now see the bridge of the Norfolk and Western Railroad crossing the St. Mary’s River.”

Aqueduct Marker 200x300 A two hour tour of central Fort Wayne

On the corner of Main and Union, you will see the house where actress Carole Lombard was born. Don’t know who Carole Lombard was? Read this blog post from Tom Castaldi:

Drive on down Main Street to the corner of Main and Van Buren. The Rockhill House once stood on this site, the hotel where Stephen Douglas stayed in his campaign visit to Fort Wayne on October 2, 1860. See for a little more information about this event or The Old Fort News article “The Douglas Has Come!” Stephen A. Douglas and the Presidential Campaign of 1860 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. John D. Beatty. 72:2, 2009, 18 pages.

Turn left onto Van Buren, crossing the railroad tracks, and continuing about two blocks. Here you’ll find the site of the first French fort, established around 1700 as Fort Miami and an historical marker noting this. For more on this site, see

It’s easiest at this point to turn around and take Van Buren to Superior Street, turning left. A little way down on your left (about a block to Fulton) will be large grey house with white pillars. This was once the home of Hugh McCulloch, the father of modern banking. McCulloch was Secretary of the Treasury under Lincoln, Johnson and Arthur. His home once faced the Wabash and Erie Canal. Learn more about McCulloch at

McCulloch House Low Res 300x223 A two hour tour of central Fort Wayne

As you travel on down Superior Street to the east, you can turn right on Ewing (which becomes Fairfield) and then left on Main. At the southwest corner of Main and Webster is the Edsall House. Built in 1839, it’s considered the oldest structure still standing in central Fort Wayne. William Edsall was the original owner and after his death, the house became Fort Wayne City Hospital, the precursor of Parkview.

From there, continue on Main to Calhoun and turn left. Travel north to Superior Street, turn right and stop one-half block on the south at the Canal House. You can learn more about the canal… and another idea for a day trip from Tom Castaldi’s blog post

“The Canal House was built in 1852 by John Brown, a stone mason and building supply dealer. The date of construction and Brown’s name can still be seen above the doorway. The ground floor was used as a place of business. Apparently the upper floor was rented as living quarters. In 1971 the Norfolk and Western Railroad gave the building to the city. It was renovated under the auspices of the Fort Wayne Bicentennial Commission” and later became offices for Arts United of Fort Wayne, which is now housed in the Auer Center. (OFN, Vol. 41, No. 1)

Continue down Superior Street to Barr and turn right. Drive under the railroad elevation and park near Freimann Square. Here you can relax a bit and get a close up view of the Anthony Wayne Statue. See and the latest edition of the Old Fort News with a photo of the statue on the cover. The railway elevation that you drove under runs along the site of what was the Wabash and Erie Canal. Two blocks to the west along Columbia Street was “The Landing”, where canal boats loaded and discharged passengers and cargo in the 1840s and 1850s.

Now that you’re in Freimann Square, it’s just a short walk over to the History Center where you can explore your city’s history in more detail. Remember, we have free admission on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. during the summer when the Barr Street Market is open.

Enjoy this, and other historic walking tours as you discover Fort Wayne!

The History Center


The History Center is the home of the Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society. Housed in the 1893 Old City Hall, the organization offers a look at Allen County and Fort Wayne history via its museum, the National Historic Landmark Chief Richardville House, the George R. Mather Lecture Series, the magazine “Old Fort News”, its award winning blog “History Center Notes and Queries” and other programs. The History Center’s Festival of Gingerbread during the holiday season attracts over 12,000 people to downtown Fort Wayne during its three-week run with proceeds going toward support of the museum and its programs. The Heritage Education Fund provides free field trips to students in area schools.

Discover Fort Wayne’s kid friendly side

Some cities boost a great nightlife–ideal for adults. The downside is that those with kids scramble for family-friendly activities. Luckily Fort Wayne is not lacking in that department. Come see for yourself why Fort Wayne has been named among the 100 best places to raise a family.Whether you’re coming in for a day, or a whole week, there is plenty to see, taste and do. Here’s a start:

There’s nothing like a day at the zoo on an Indian summer day. The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo has been consistently ranked one of the best children’s zoos, and it’s easy to see why. The range of animal life is impressive–they have everything from giraffes to wallabies! There is also a good amount of hands-on activities, perfect for curious minds. I recommend you have a picnic before or after in nearby Franke Park. There is plenty of greenspace to enjoy!

If the weather isn’t cooperating, there is plenty of fun (and learning) to be had indoors at one of Fort Wayne’s many quality museums. Inspire budding scientists at Science Central, a museum dedicated to teaching kids about the wonders of sciences. Expect plenty of hands-on activities here.

Do you have a nature lover on your hands? The Botanical Conservatory is a must! They have an impressive permanent exhibit. (Cactuses, anyone?)  Their seasonal exhibits–like endangered butterflies– are not to be missed. If the kids are thirsty there is an on-site cafe.

fwmoa 300x127 Discover Fort Waynes kid friendly sideMaybe you have an aspiring Picasso in the family? Well then the Fort Wayne Museum of Art is a no-brainer.  Their Early Learning Center is designed to expose young minds to the world of art. Remember it’s never too early to inspire!

Maybe your kids have a lot of energy they need to get out of their system. What better place to do that than in the great outdoors? Fort Wayne and Allen County offers over 81 miles of biking, hiking, and even kayaking trails. The network of trails offers safe, fun places to get outdoors with the family – and our trails connect you to our parks, attractions, downtown and more!

Here’s to yours days ahead in Fort Wayne filled with laughter, fun and memories!


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: