Fantasy Of Lights – like a toybox come alive!

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Fantasy of Lights is a great chance to relax and enjoy the holiday season!

I love Christmas lights. They just lend such a cheery glow to the dark of winter… Multi-colored are a favorite, followed by millions of twinkling white lights, and then the matched sets. You know – the red and green, the white and blue, the pink and purple. Some real fun comes in, though, when the lights can create pictures – like a golden giraffe or a host of angels.

One place to find a treasure trove of light pictures is the Fantasy of Lights, held in Franke Park right next to the Children’s Zoo. You get all the joy from the twinkling, towering, figures without having to leave the comfort of your car!

And, you can listen to the special radio channel, 92.1 FM, sponsored by WBCL (89.1 FM) to get the scoop on who has sponsored which display. The radio channel also provides cheery holiday music, and some good information for maneuvering your car through the dim, winding paths.

WBCL, a Christian radio station, has been assisting with the Fantasy of Lights for a number of years. WBCL’s Ron Schnaamann voices and produces the radio program that accompanies the Fantasy display – a job that he has held for at least ten years.

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Drive through, listen to the Christmas music, and enjoy the beautiful lights.

Between the jingling musical bells and the flickering lights, it’s always fun to drive slowly through the tunnel of striped lights. It’s sort of like traveling through the land of sweets from the Nutcracker! All the striped poles, arching over the road, just lend a perfect feeling of peace and excitement.

And everyone is driving slowly, sometimes pulling over to take pictures of especially good displays. One of my favorites is the giant rocking horse, which slowly pivots back and forth. Or then there’s the Santa Claus stuck in the chimney – sponsored by Nob Brick, this reminder of one of our holiday visitors is fun to figure out. Yes, Virginia, those are Santa’s boots kicking around in the bottom of the fireplace.

Although the trip through the Fantasy of Lights display is fairly short, it’s always a good experience. It’s just like going through a child’s toy box, only in giant form. And what’s truly neat – the shapes all move on their own – you don’t even have to flip a switch!

The Fantasy of Lights is open through New Years Eve – December 31st! Hours are 6pm-9pm Sunday – Thursday and 6pm-10pm Friday and Saturday.



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!)

Winter Sights Downtown

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Elves decorate the Christmas tree and answer the telephone in one of the windows at the Embassy Theater and Indiana Hotel Lobby.

There’s just a touch of snow in the air – that frosty nip that makes you think of tinsel and pine  and warm cinnamon. That means its Christmas time here in Fort Wayne, and Christmas time means light displays.

While there are a dizzying variety of illuminations and inflatables that you can use to decorate your own home, downtown Fort Wayne also has a great display of holiday spirit.  And what’s even better – you can take yourself on the guided tour for free, in the comfort of your warm car!

Maybe the most iconic light displays here are the Santa and Reindeer that are displayed on the side of PNC Bank building (Main and Calhoun) and the Merry Christmas wreath that glows from One Summit Square (Wayne and Calhoun). Both decorations have been illuminating the downtown season since about 1937, when they were first displayed by the old Wolf and Dessauer department store.  A convenient parking lot, right next to the Santa display, has plenty of room for viewers who want to pull over, snap a few pictures, and let the kids soak in the warm, golden light from blinking reindeer and Rudolph’s red nose.

Another thoughtful treat is the Harrison Street Animated window display. These large picture windows, set into the walls of the Indiana Hotel Lobby and Embassy Theatre, are illuminated and filled with characters that illustrate various scenes. One window is devoted to a Nativity crèche, while different vignettes fill the other sidewalk-level windows. Stroll past on foot, or drive around the block a few times to soak in all the details!

The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory will have their own display on Jefferson Boulevard, west of Calhoun Street.  Their small, brilliant lights blink and twinkle just across the street from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The Cathedral, too, has  a special holiday luminescence, complete with green wreaths and brilliant white lights. While the church is always magnificently illuminated year round, there’s just something about this season that touches the church with a special glow.

One last thing to mention – in the center of downtown Fort Wayne, you see the Lincoln Tower (116 East Berry). One of Fort Wayne’s early skyscrapers, this art-deco building seems to stretch upwards for miles. And in the winter at night, the windows of the tower are warmed by the light of tiny electric candles. Truly, each little light makes the tower shine.

Make your time looking at the beautiful lights a whole evening! Check out Visit Fort Wayne for places to eat, shows and other events that are going on, and HolidayFest events and activities!



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!)

Fantasy of Lights 2013

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You’ll see many of your holiday favorites shining bright at the Fantasy of Lights.

Since I can remember, cruising through Franke Park for the annual Fantasy of Lights display has been our family tradition. It’s the perfect way to transition from Thanksgiving and the autumn season right into the chilly holiday winter just ahead. Our kids always look forward to the Fantasy of Lights, no matter how old—our thirteen year old daughter recalls back to when she was a little girl, and says, “Oooh, I remember that one!” And that’s what it’s all about during the holiday season—cherishing old memories and traditions while making new ones.

The Fantasy of Lights is an impressive exhibit of lights, with over 75 unique and creative displays this year. From an illuminated Nativity Scene to an animated penguin display (our ten year old son’s favorite, and which also inspired him at three to become a penguin when he grows up…), families and children young and old will surely enjoy this festive holiday lights display.

As you slowly cruise through Franke Park and take in the sights, tune your radio to a holiday music-filled accompaniment to really get the holiday mood going. We like to try and remember which displays are up next, and also see new ones. Invariably, the youngest falls asleep before it’s over, but the peaceful quiet helps us all enjoy the Fantasy of Lights a bit more!

Don’t forget to bring the family for the annual Fantasy of Lights at Franke Park this holiday season!

Open every night through Dec 31st, 2013
6 PM – 9 PM Sunday through Thursday
6 PM – 10 PM Friday and Saturday

$5 per car; $10 per 15-passenger van; $25 per bus/trolley

For additional information, please contact (260) 744-6145.

Franke Park
3411 Sherman Blvd.

To find out more about the Fantasy of Lights, or any of the other great holiday and HolidayFest activities going on around Fort Wayne, check out Visit Fort Wayne!



Born and raised in Indianapolis, almost nothing could move this downtown girl from her native Circle City—except true love. Deb now calls Fort Wayne home, and lives with her husband and their three amazing children in a cozy north side neighborhood. Armed with a Master’s in English, Deb was an editor for Northern Indiana LAKES Magazine, and a copywriter and proofreader for a local marketing and design firm. An avid reader, nature enthusiast, and amateur gourmet, she also loves to take walks and hikes with her family.

Crazy Christmas Houses – Take 2!

christmas banner Crazy Christmas Houses   Take 2!
Click here to see all posts about what’s going this season in Fort Wayne!


Looking for the most outlandish holiday spirit? I’ve found it here in Fort Wayne!

Last year I wrote a post that featured three homes around Fort Wayne that have been favorites on our annual holiday home tour. But three is just not enough! Feast your eyes on these spectacles of the season.

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9346 Auburn Road

“Fa-la-la-la-la-Lot of Yard Decor”

  • Northwest Fort Wayne
  • 9346 Auburn Road
  • This yard is decorated for many holidays, not just Christmas.
  • Over 20 different scenes set up in the yard and on the roof featuring classic and modern Christmas decorations.
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Blow-Up Bonanza on West Wallen Road

“Wallen Road Wonders”

  • Northwest Fort Wayne
  • “Blow-up Bonanza” at 750 West Wallen Road has nearly 20 blow-up decorations in the front yard.  These larger-than-life displays will leave you wide-eyed in wonder.
  • “Candy Land” at 224 West Wallen Road features what my child’s imagination sees as hundreds of trees decorated in the colors of the season.
  • Caution: there are not great spots to pull over and enjoy these displays, so take advantage of the low 35 mile per hour speed limit as you drive by.
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1828 S Tyland, New Haven, Indiana

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1828 S Tyland as seen from Summit Street

“Season’s Greetings…on all sides”

  • New Haven, Indiana
  • 1828 South Tyland
  • Over 30,000 lights cover all four sides of this house and both sides of the roof!
  • A unique feature of this home is that the owners have the lights on at night and in the morning. Using timers, they take advantage of daylight savings and turn the lights back on from 5-8 am each morning now through January 2nd. What a lovely way to start the day!
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8512 Forsythia Court

“Festive Fanatic”

  • Southwest Fort Wayne
  • 8512 Forsythia Court in Westcott Ridge
  • The lights don’t just dazzle…they dance! Tune your car radio to hear the music behind the motion.
  • As far as we know, this is the only house in Fort Wayne that even puts lights over their yard!
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Plumbago Court

“Hoosier Hysteria”

  • Southwest Fort Wayne
  • Plumbago Court in Vera Cruz
  • Some people are basketball fans. And then there is this house.
  • Of Yahoo! Sports fame, thanks to their choreography of Christian Watford’s 3-pointer.
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The ever changing…

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…sights timed to sounds…

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…and even a talking head!

“Symphony of Sights”

  • Southwest Fort Wayne
  • Corner of Ruffner and Caravelle in Bridgewater addition
  • This house has been lit since 2006 and has grown to feature of 40,000 lights timed to an hour’s worth of music.
  • Tune your car radio to 91.3 to hear the music making these lights move. You can even watch these lights online at!

I encourage you to grab a coffee or hot chocolate from a local spot like Old Crown, Firefly, the Friendly Fox, or DeBrand location to take on your home tour. While you’re touring the town, listen to 95.1 or 97.3 and enjoy the sounds of the season as you search for crazy Christmas houses. And let me know what houses I’ve missed!

To help you navigate, I’ve put this year’s homes plus last year’s (minus “The Clark W Griswold” house, which will not be lit this year) in a Google Map. Just add your starting location and final destination to enjoy an evening out gazing at the lights.

View Larger Map



A Fort Wayne native, Heather is a married with two children and works as Director of Community Engagement for Parkview Health. She's passionate about living and serving in the community with organizations including Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeast Indiana, Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. In her free time, you’ll find her spending time with her family or friends - most often in downtown Fort Wayne or on Sylvan Lake in Noble County. Team Schoegler's favorite activities are cheering on the TinCaps and Komets as well as catching area concerts. What keeps her calling Fort Wayne home are the many opportunities to make memories and create traditions with her family. Follow her on Twitter at @HSchoegler.

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3 Responses to "Crazy Christmas Houses – Take 2!"

December 24th, 2012
Thanks SO MUCH for putting this list together!!!
December 13th, 2012
There's a house on Emerald Mist Way in Lakes of Carroll Creek (off of Carroll Road) that is fantastic. Front and back yard are full of fun decorations. Just down the road (north) on Lanai there is a house that has some sort of holographic movie of Santa in the window. It’s AWESOME! It shows Santa coming into the room, eating cookies and drinking milk, getting the gifts out, etc., and it looks like it’s all happening right inside this house. You have to check it out!! Merry Christmas!
December 13th, 2012
Don't miss the terrace lights at the Botanical Conservatory. From dark to 9 Tuesday through Sunday.

Fantasy of Lights 2012

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Join us in Franke Park for this year’s Fantasy of Lights from November 21 to December 31, 2012!

The fabulous display will be open Sundays through Thursdays from 6-9 PM and Fridays and Saturdays from 6-10 PM.

You’re sure to be in for a treat if you haven’t yet attended the Fantasy of Lights in Fort Wayne. If you have, you’ll enjoy the captivating displays that you’ve seen in the past as well as some new displays.

It is one of northeast Indiana’s favorite winter holiday events and it supports a great cause. Come out and drive through the enchanting Franke Park and let it fill you with Christmas spirit! There will be over 75 animated Christmas light displays, each depicting anything from children playing to Santa Claus to nativity figures, lined up down a 1.5 mile route for you to bask in and enjoy — all in the comfort of your vehicle with your family. It’s a great, affordable way to get out of the house and experience some Christmas cheer!

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Fantasy of Lights was originally created to help raise funds to support programs for children and adults with disabilities and, since it opened in 1995, it has raised over $500,000! AWS Foundation sponsors the wonderful, breath-taking event. You can help show your support by coming out and having a great time! People of all ages are welcome and you’re encouraged to bring your loved ones to enjoy it with you!

If you’d like to see this year’s Fantasy of Lights, it will be in Franke Park at 3411 Sherman Blvd in Fort Wayne, IN (adjacent to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo). The price of admission is $5.00 per car, $10.00 per 15-passenger van and $25.00 per bus or trolley. If you’d like more information, please call (260) 456-2971, ext. 5874. or click here. We hope to see you there!


Caitlin Hougland was born and raised in Mississippi, as was her fiancée and their son, up until April of 2012. They wanted to get away from the heat and economy so they decided to bring their accents and sweet tea to Indiana. Caitlin is a nerdy and geeky stay-at-home mom and an avid blogger who can be found here and at her family blog, Southern Stay-at-Home Momma. She is also a social networking and World of Warcraft fanatic who plans on getting a degree in PR and Marketing.