Doors opened to the public at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 9 for the grand opening of Fort Wayne's Promenade Park.
The three-day grand opening celebrations of the park at 202 W. Superior St. was scheduled to start at 6 p.m. with Mayor Tom Henry welcoming the community aboard a floating stage in the St. Marys River. After a ribbon cutting, guests could enjoy music, improv and comedy performances at the Sweetwater Bandshell that overlooks the river on the south riverbank. The Fort Wayne Children's Choir Youth Chorale and Maumee, Mary and Joseph Comedy were some of the scheduled acts before the ending Pyroscope Performance & Shindigz St. Marys River Lighting.
Trubble Riverside Cafe & Tap inside the Park Foundation Pavilion opened to serve Trubble Brewing beers on tap that could be enjoyed inside the cafe or out on the patio and bier garden. The cafe planned to offer grab-and-go food such as wraps, sandwiches, salads, soups and smoothies, keeping in mind children's favorites and health-conscious eaters.
Aug. 10's Recreation Day program 9:30 a.m.-dusk includes dragon boat races, boat tours and kayak and lighted boat parades.
Aug. 11's Nature Day activities 10 a.m.-after dark includes urban birdwatching, monarch butterfly releases and a native plant scavenger hunt with Northeast Chapter of Indiana National Plant Society volunteers.
The park 's opening was pushed back from June 21-23 because the wet spring made it hard for construction crews to get work done on certain parks. One of those areas was the Parkview Tree Canopy Trail. The elevated trail runs from the Wells Street Bridge to near the Harrison Street Bridge. Another was the water jet fountain, made possible through $200,000 from Rotary Club of Fort Wayne.
Funding for the $17.1 million park came from Legacy funds — originating from an initial $75 million trust fund created from proceeds from the 35-year lease of City Light and Power utility infrastructure to Indiana Michigan Power as well as the proceeds from the sale of that infrastructure once the lease ended in 2010, Indiana Regional Cities Initiative money from the northeast Indiana region's $42 million focused on quality-of-place projects, and private donations.
Among the amenities of the park:
• PNC Playground, accessible to children of all abilities on the north riverbank. Provided through a $250,000 grant from the PNC Foundation, Indiana-based Countryside Play Structures and Landscape Structures, known for designing playgrounds worldwide, "designed the area to energize sensory experiences with Rhapsody Outdoor Instruments and visually vibrant modular and climbing structures with Mobius Climbers and Global Motion," according to a PNC statement.
On the south riverbank:
• Ambassador Enterprises Amphitheatre
• Journal Gazette Foundation Dining Gardens
• Auer Lawn, accessible to all abilities
• Old National Bank Plaza
• Doermer Kids' Canal
• Little Creek Bioswale
• Betsy Chapman Family Gardens
• "Convergence" sculpture by Linda Howard
• Greenscape steps
Several aspects of the park have accessibility issues in mind. In addition to those mentioned, the park has gradual sloping paths, pavilion floor patterns that accommodate challenges associated with Parkinson’s disease, wheelchair seating at exterior tables, full-length mirrors in restrooms and priority parking along Wells Street.
The park is Phase I of Fort Wayne's planned riverfront development. A planning group has been getting public input for Phase II and Phase III, which will include private development.