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Broadway glows with Christmas tree, fireworks, Electric Works

Fireworks ignite the sky at the tree lighting at Christmas on Broadway on Friday evening. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com
Zac Cook, 9, and his mother, Joy, take a selfie at the lighting of the tree at Christmas on Broadway on Friday evening. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Jonah Hudson, 5, claps as music plays before the lighting of the tree at Christmas on Broadway on Friday evening. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com
Landin Bohlinger, 4, has hot chocolate before the tree lighting at Christmas on Broadway on Friday evening. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Steve Shine, a partner with Shine and Hardin, sponsor of Christmas on Broadway, watches the fireworks at the tree lighting Friday evening. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
The Christmas on Broadway tree is lighted Friday evening. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
"Electric Works" is projected on the former Elex Club for General Electric workers on Swinney Avenue during a celebration of the project Friday evening. (By Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Several people used this mural as a backdrop for photos at the Electric Works celebration Friday night. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Color washes over a former General Electric building on Broadway during the Electric Works celebration Friday night. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
A White Castle and Whole Foods Market are some of the suggestions for what people would like to see in the planned Electric Works in the former General Electric site on Broadway during a celebration Friday night. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Artist Maddie Miller takes part in As You Wish, which sought to fulfill children's wishes artistically during the Electric Works celebration Friday night. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Artist Maddie Miller creates a colorful wreath for As You Wish, which sought to fulfill children's wishes artistically during the Electric Works celebration Friday night. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Attendees enjoy food from trucks and listen to music during a celebration of the Electric Works project Friday evening. (By Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Children play a wooden block game during a celebration of the Electric Works project Friday evening. (By Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Patio heaters keep attendees warm during a celebration of the Electric Works project Friday evening. (By Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Best friends Izzy Shaw, 5, left, and Brayden Bohlinger, 4, rub lighted noses Friday at the Electric Works celebration on Swinney Avenue. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)

The crowd waiting for the lighting of the tree at Christmas on Broadway on Friday evening happily belted out José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” before the grand event.

As the tree exploded with light, the thunder of fireworks sounded. Smiles erupted across Broadway Plaza as everyone looked skyward. Flashes of light filled the sky, but in moments it was over. However, the tree remained with pinpricks of light, and Steve Shine, a partner with event sponsor Shine and Hardin law firm, thanked the crowd.

The night wasn’t over yet, though. Some headed over to the Electric Works celebration at Swinney Avenue and Broadway. The event celebrated the $300 million Electric Works project, a partnership between RTM Ventures and the city of Fort Wayne to create office, retail, residential, hotel and entertainment space on 31 acres of the former General Electric complex.

At its peak in the 1940s, GE employed more than 10,000 people in Fort Wayne, mainly producing electric motors. Employment declined over the following decades until the company eliminated its last few dozen jobs in Fort Wayne in 2014.

On Friday night, the vacant buildings were occupied by colorful lights as guests filled blocked-off Swinney Avenue to play games, buy food from vendors, offer Electric Works tenant suggestions and listen to music. “Electric Works” was projected on the former GE Elex Club.

Mayor Tom Henry was among those who spoke at the event.

“It’s going to take us a little while to redo Electric Works, but what a magnificent investment it’s going to be when we’re finished,” he said to applause from the audience.

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