2021 Highlights

Awards Recognizing Park Excellence

  • Promenade Park was recently named a winner of the 2021 Urban Land Institute (ULI) Americas Awards for Excellence. Winning projects include 10 from the United States and two from Canada, and represent the highest standards of achievement in the land use profession.
  • Promenade Park was a Finalist in the GLOBAL Awards for Excellence from the Urban Land Institute for 2021.
  • The 2021 AIA Indiana Design Honor Award was given to Promenade Park.
  • Promenade Park also won the Architizer A+ Awards for People’s Choice in 2021.
  • The Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation Department was honored with two 2020 IPRA Awards of Excellence during an Indiana Park and Recreation Association event on November 4, 2021. The department’s Confluence Kitchen program received the Inclusive Program Award and Community Center Manager Patti Davis was recognized as the IPRA Outstanding Professional of the Year.
  • In the Fort Wayne Newspaper’s 2021 Reader’s Choice Awards! Johnny Appleseed Festival was chosen as the Best Community Festival, Promenade Park was the Best Park, and the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo won in four categories (Best Children's Entertainment, Best City Attraction, Best Family Friendly Event and Best Local Attraction).
  • The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo won in two categories (Best All Year Fun and Best Summer "Must Do" Bucket List) of the 2021 Hoosier Choice Awards.
  • Fort Wayne has been named a “Tree City USA” for the 31st year in a row. This designation--awarded by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters--was earned for the City of Fort Wayne’s tree canopy stewardship and continued commitment to a green city. Fort Wayne also earned their 16th Growth Award from the National Arbor Day Foundation for a higher standard of forestry management of the City’s 65,000 public trees.

New Projects and Renovations

  •              Franke Park Renaissance Design Plan
  •              ADA Improvements at Northside, Kreager, Cooper Center
  •              Botanical Conservatory Megaflora Art Installation
  •              Kettler Park Open-Air Pavilion Renovation
  •              McMillen Park Golf Course Golf Cart Paths Replacement
  •              Memorial Park Allen Co. Veterans Memorial Monument Relocation
  •              Promenade Park Playground Restroom Building Addition
  •              Weisser Park Playground Replacement
  •              Youth Centers Kitchen Improvements Including New Appliances


2022 Highlights

  • 30 New Pickleball Courts: Celebrated the addition of 30 new pickleball courts in five City parks. This $180,881.00 project resurfaced and converted courts at Foster, Lakeside, Hamilton and Kettler Parks and restriped courts at Tillman Park. The additional courts accommodate the increasing local interest in a growing sport with fans of all ages. The new courts join existing courts at McMillen, Lions and Waynedale Parks for a total of 36 outdoor and six indoor courts.
  • Parks Celebrates 75 Years of Franke Park Day Camp: Marked the 75th anniversary of Franke Park Day Camp with a special public open house. The festivities featured opportunities for guests to take a guided hike to Bullet Hill, experience Singing Tree, appear in a commemorative photo taken with a drone, enjoy special giveaways (while supplies lasted), buy a 75th Anniversary t-shirt and revel in a ceremony packed with fun facts about the longest running children’s program within the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department.
  • The program continues to be a family tradition with former campers sending their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to experience the adventures, camaraderie and outdoor education. Franke Park Day Camp was sold out for the summer of 2022.
  • Basketball Court Enhancements and Colorful Mural Revealed: Announced completion of a public private partnership to resurface and enhance two basketball courts in Ivan Lebamoff Reservoir Park. The surface of the courts features a vibrant thematic mural installed by local artist Andre Portee. The $30,000 project also includes new backboards, painted rims and new benches. It is funded by Fort Financial Credit Union with resurfacing and new striping by Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation and with support from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
  • Riverfront Fort Wayne Partnership with KultureCity: KultureCity has partnered with Riverfront Fort Wayne to make Promenade Park and all of the programs and events that the venue hosts to be sensory inclusive. This new initiative will promote an accommodating and positive experience for all guests and fans with a sensory issue who visit Riverfront Fort Wayne.
  • Fort Wayne Parks restoration of Pavilion 3 in Foster Park: Completed a multi-year effort to historically restore the 1930’s era rustic stone and timber open-air picnic shelter and the surrounding Oak Grove recreational site. This public-private partnership with Friends of the Park of Allen County and South West Area Partnership brings new life and opportunity for reengagement with a little-known section of Foster Park.
  • Historic 19th Century Wells Street Bridge Project Completed: Revealed the replacement of all decorative knee portal components in the truss of the historic 19th century Wells Street Bridge at Promenade Park. The completion of the $131,405 bridge project is significant as it is one of only a few examples of a truss bridge of the 1880s era that still survives. This project was funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund Program and is being administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.
  • Tree City USA Award: The National Arbor Day Foundation awarded the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department with its 32nd consecutive Tree City USA designation. The Parks Department announced that the city received the Growth Award for the 17th consecutive year, which highlights innovative programs and projects and demonstrates an increased commitment of resources for urban forestry.

New Projects and Renovations:

  • Conservatory Roof Replacement
  • Community Center parking lot paving
  • Foellinger Theatre entrance sidewalk and drainage improvements
  • Jennings Center playground structure replacement, landscape improvements
  • Kreager Park Taylor’s Dream playground safety surface replacement
  • McMillen Park Golf Course cart paths paving
  • Freimann Square Anthony Wayne and Swinney Park General Foster Monument cleaning and waxing
  • Freimann Square installation of four chess tables
  • Salomon Farm Park Old Barn siding improvements and painting


2023 Highlights

  • Headwaters Transitions to Parks

After 30 years of direction under The Headwaters Park Commission (in 1993) and the Headwaters Park Alliance (beginning in 2001), Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation assumed management and day-to-day operations of Headwaters Park prior to the 2023 festival season. The transition was smooth and led to a successful operation of the Headwaters Ice Rink with creative recreational programming throughout the season.

  • Tree City USA Award

The National Arbor Day Foundation awarded the City of Fort Wayne with its 33rd consecutive Tree City USA designation. The Parks Department announced that the city received the Growth Award for the 18th consecutive year, for demonstrating environmental improvement and an outstanding level of tree care.

  • New Park & Play Program Brings the Fun to Youth

This mobile recreation unit called Park & Play brings a selection of sports, games, arts and crafts, fitness, nature and outdoor educational activities to youth ages five and above throughout the summer. This program supplements other summer activities for youth in neighborhood parks.

  • Lifetime Sports Academy Celebrates 25 Years

Teaching the life-long sports of tennis, golf and swimming at no cost is key to the mission of the LSA that was started by Jerry Fox, Tom Jehl and Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation. More then 850 participants in 2023 and over 31,300 since its inception in 1998 have developed skills to use throughout their lifetimes.

  • Parks Celebrates 75 Years of Community at the Jennings Recreation Center

The 75th anniversary of the Jennings Recreation Center was celebrated with a carnival-themed open house. The festivities featured tours of the facility, food and refreshments, games, horse-drawn wagon rides, animals, face painting and a bounce house. The center officially opened in the summer of 1948 as the McCulloch Recreation Center and was renamed in 1992 after longtime director Albert George Jennings. It is known for being a safe haven and meeting location for kids and families and for hosting many special programs.

  • Jennings Wassail Reunion Marks 70 Years

The annual Wassail Reunion at the Jennings Recreation Center gathered community members of all ages to kick off the holiday season with a festive program of music, poetry, dance, refreshments and the traditional wassail punch. This annual event is also a celebration of Ubuntu community at the East Central neighborhood center.

Other Notable Achievements:

  • Opened McKinnie Commons with City of Fort Wayne Community Development and Councilwoman Sharon Tucker.
  • Powell Park joined Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation via City of Fort Wayne Community Development and the Southeast Strategy.
  • Refreshed Sheldon Park with a new playground, sidewalks and benches.
  • Accepted the Outstanding Agency Award for 2022 from the Indiana Parks and Recreation Association in November 2023.
  • Drafted and presented the Hanna Homestead Master Plan to Board of Park Commissioners.
  • Completed the Moody Park Master Plan which was adopted by Board of Park Commissioners.
  • Completed Foster Park Golf Master Plan which was adopted by Board of Park Commissioners.


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