This 150 foot long lighted Santa Claus with his sleigh and reindeer is the most famous Christmas decoration in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Originally built in the late 1930s to adorn the side of the Wolf and Dessauer Department Store in downtown Fort Wayne, it was lost after the store closed around 1970.
A decade later, it was discovered hidden away in a warehouse. In bad condition, it needed hundreds of hours or work and thousands of dollars worth of parts to restore it to functioning condition. A group of local electricians, including my grandfather, John Westerfield, volunteered their time to rebuild the historic display.
Nearly all of the wiring needed replaced to meet modern safety regulations, and it needed more than 40,000 small colored light bulbs! After the restoration was completed in the early 1980s, Santa was put back on display on the side of the Fort Wayne National Bank building.
Every year, right before Thanksgiving, Santa and his reindeer are assembled in sections on the side of the building, now known as the PNC Bank Building.
In addition to the Santa display, Wolf and Dessauer also had two large wreaths, also made of thousands of colored lights. They were found and restored alongside the Santa display, and both are displayed each year on other downtown Fort Wayne buildings.
Just eight minutes after I made the first photograph, I made the one below. The light had changed considerably, as the sunlight was dimming rapidly into night.
©2016 Christopher Crawford. Please do not use my photos without permission.