Fort Wayne has established a national reputation for being a loyal, successful home to minor league teams. With the TinCaps and the Mad Ants, there has been plenty of sports action in this city in recent years.
But both of those teams are new kids on the block compared to the Fort Wayne Komets. Dropping a puck for the first time in the 1952-53 season, the Komets have been a beloved fixture in the Summit City for a long time.
And with a new season on the horizon, their seat on the throne is secure.
Opening Night With Kalamazoo
All the fun starts on Opening Night, October 12, when the Komets host the rival Kalamazoo Wings to kick off the team’s 68th anniversary season.
One way the Komets maintain such loyal fans is that even as they move forward, they’re not opposed to looking back.
“We always get big crowds on opening night,” said Josh Testin, director of sales and marketing for the Komets. “We use that opportunity to honor the history of the Fort Wayne Komets by bringing back some of the legends who have played for the Komets over the years. Fans are always happy to see those players again, and it’s a special event for everyone.”
With 16 promotions and theme nights, the team has plenty to offer aside from some great action on the ice. In fact, some of the promotions allow fans to get some time of their own on that very ice.
“Every Halloween time we have the Costume Parade,” said Testin of the event which this year takes place on Saturday, October 26. “At the end of the game, we invite all the kids and the adults, too, to come on the ice if they’re in costume. And there are prizes for best costume. It’s a lot of fun for the kids and their parents.”
If you can’t make that Halloween celebration, the Komets have other ways to get out on the ice.
“Our Meijer Family Nights are on Sundays,” Testin said. “Anyone who brings skates can take the ice after the game for a skate. The players come back out on the ice, and they skate with the fans, sign autographs, take photos with them. It’s fun to watch because some of the kids just go out there and skate pretty fast while others take it a bit easier.”
Testin also said that 10 of the promotions this year involve players wearing specialty jerseys, a higher number than the team has had before.
Among some of the theme nights that should provide stellar fashion statements are:
- Bob Chase Memorial Game, Thanksgiving
- Star Wars Night, Nov. 30
- Nickelodeon Night, Dec. 21
- New Year’s Eve Blackout, Dec. 31
- DC Comics Night, Jan. 18
- Wizarding World Night, Feb. 8
- Pink the Rink Weekend, Feb, 21-22
- Pet Detective Night benefiting H.O.P.E. for Animals, March 13
- Marvel Super Hero Night, April 3
- Fan Appreciation Night, April 5
Fan Appreciation Night is the one Sunday with no post-game skate with players but fans can stick around and watch the annual award ceremony immediately following the game.
There is also one additional opportunity to see the Komets in specialty jerseys.
“We’ll be celebrating Military Appreciation Weekend on November 1-2,” Testin said. “Fort Wayne does a great job of celebrating and honoring the military, and the Fort Wayne Komets are happy to be part of that every year.”
The jerseys are more than a statement of support or a fun fan attraction.
Testin said that after the game, the jerseys are auctioned off with proceeds going to local causes, such as H.O.P.E for Animals. And along the way anyone who has ever wanted to see their favorite Komets player don a Batman jersey can fulfill that dream as they benefit others in the community.
Teddy Bear toss
Still another great way to contribute to others comes at Teddy Bear Toss Night on Friday, Dec. 20, when the K’s take on home state rivals, the Indy Fuel. For those who are unfamiliar with this fun tradition, the Komets website paints the picture pretty nicely.
“Bring new or gently used stuffed animals to the game and join in the tradition by throwing them on the ice when the Komets score their first goal,” he said. “All stuffed animals will be donated to The Disorderly Bear Den, a non-profit, public charity that collects and gives away teddy bears and other stuffed animals to those in need.”
Still one more special night awaits families and especially young children. On Sunday, March 15, the team hosts Princess Night which will include on-ice experience for those dressed as their favorite princess character. Sweetening the pot will be a special appearance by those popular Frozen sisters, Elsa and Anna.
There are also a few great ways for families to enjoy the game without spending a fortune. Family 4-Pack Nights and $2 beer and soft drink nights are just a couple ways to enjoy a game and economize.
And there’s still one more treat that can await fans when they head to the Memorial Coliseum to cheer on the Fort Wayne Komets. Intermission games and contests have become a popular attraction for fans of all sports, and the Komets invite anyone who wishes to participate to sign up on their website (komets.com) and check out the Fan Zone area where a variety of fan experiences are available just by signing up.
There are plenty of reasons to check out the Fort Wayne Komets this season, and the theme nights and promotions are just one piece of that puzzle.
There’s also a new head coach to welcome with Ben Boudreau signing to become the team’s 29th head coach in May. Once the puck drops on October 12, anything is possible, maybe even a 10th championship title.