Jefferson Pointe is Home to All Your Holiday Needs

Photo credit: Riley McCullough

December is a month full of shopping, eating and most of all, holiday cheer. With the holidays and end of the year happening simultaneously, most people find themselves overwhelmed with things they need to get finished rather than enjoying the holiday season.

Having a place that offers it all, shopping, eating and cheer, is something that many people would cherish in this fast-passed world we live in. Luckily for Fort Wayne, that place exists: Jefferson Pointe.

Jefferson Pointe offers a wide variety of over 60 retail stores, boutiques and restaurants for all your holiday shopping and eating needs. But, Jefferson Pointe also offers a complete holiday atmosphere like no other.

Brett Gauger, resident of Fort Wayne, said visiting Jefferson Pointe this time of year is “enchanting.”

Katrina Newman, property marketing manager for Jefferson Pointe, said planning for the holiday transformation begins six months in advance, but the actual transformation of the shopping center does not begin until the end of October.

Newman said besides the typical holiday lights and décor, there are three main holiday aspects at Jefferson Pointe: live reindeer, photos with Santa and their title-holding Christmas tree.

The live reindeer are at Jefferson Pointe every Saturday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. They are located between Simply Mac and Victoria’s Secret. Newman said guests are encouraged to bring their own cameras for when they meet the reindeer.

The reindeer are also at Jefferson Pointe for extra hours on Christmas Eve from noon to 2 p.m.

Santa is located in the play area next to Barnes and Noble. Newman said Santa is ready to meet and take pictures with visitors Monday through Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. After meeting Santa, there are photo packages available for visitors to purchase.

Santa, like the live reindeer, is also at Jefferson Pointe for extra hours on Christmas Eve from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There are four miles of lights that wrap the trees at Jefferson Pointe, and Jefferson Pointe is home to the tallest synchronized tree in Indiana.

“The tree is 48 feet tall, and the star on top of the tree is 4 feet tall,” Newman said.

The tree features nightly shows from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Newman said these shows occur every half hour.

“There are six different shows with different songs each show,” Newman said.

This year, Newman chose to add something new. According to Newman, each show is performed with three Christmas songs followed by Star Wars’ theme song. Newman said she decided to incorporate Star Wars’ theme song because of the new Star Wars movie release on Dec. 18.

“My family makes it a priority to stop and watch,” Gauger said. “After shopping, we will grab a hot drink from Starbucks and enjoy the show.”

This is the third year for the synchronized Jefferson Pointe Christmas tree. Each year Newman said they continue to add more holiday aspects that add to the overall holiday atmosphere. Newman said this year new lights were added to both the tree itself and the surrounding trees.

“The tree is definitely making its way to become a Fort Wayne holiday icon,” Gauger said. “It would not surprise me in the years to come that the JP [Jefferson Pointe] tree is as recognizable as the Santa on Main.”

The tree is lit on the second Saturday of November at 7 p.m. Newman said they choose to light the tree early in order to not make visitors choose which lighting ceremony in Fort Wayne to go to.

Newman said this year’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony was “packed.”

“We are up substantially,” Newman said. Only a week into December, numbers are already showing a 26,000 visitor increase for December 2015 compared to December 2014’s visitor count. Newman said this increase in visitors is great not only for the holiday offerings but for the stores in general.

Amanda Prindle, employee at Jefferson Pointe, said she thinks this upcoming weekend will be the busiest of December.

“The weather has been great, and it is the final countdown for shoppers,” Prindle said. “Shoppers and tree-goers will flood JP [Jefferson Pointe] this weekend, I am sure of it!”

Newman said the tree will switch from synchronizing Christmas music to synchronizing “party” music to celebrate the new year beginning Dec. 26. The Christmas tree stays lit through Jan. 10.

Whether it is shopping, eating or snapping photos with Santa, Jefferson Pointe is the place that accommodates your holiday needs. Jefferson Pointe is located between Illinois Road and West Jefferson Boulevard in Fort Wayne, Ind. For more information about store hours or directions, please visit:


The Truth is Told of the Many Misconceptions of Gluten

Photo credit: Cody Neuenschwander

It has been roughly seven years since Jessica Grote heard the words “you need to go on a gluten-free diet.”

Grote, a senior a Concordia Lutheran High School, said her diagnosis was a difficult process. She said she had not been feeling great for a while and her doctor could not figure out why.

She was then instructed, by her doctor, to go on an “intense gluten diet.” Grote said this diet consisted of food with high wheat content. She ate foods like whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat noodles – if it had wheat – she ate it, she said.

During this diet, Grote said she experienced some of the most severe symptoms she had ever had.

At the peak of these symptoms, her doctor administered a blood test and then instructed her to go off gluten completely.

A few weeks after the intense diet, Grote’s symptoms subsided and she felt better than she ever had before.

Grote’s blood test came back showing results that showed gluten intolerances and was then diagnosed with gluten intolerance.

Grote was diagnosed in the fifth grade and has not consumed gluten since.

Issues regarding gluten and its affect on the body have been in the “hot seat” for a while, but there are many misconceptions regarding these issues.

What even is gluten? According to, gluten is composed of two different proteins: gliadin and glutenin. These proteins are found in the wheat endosperm, a tissue produced in seeds that are ground out to make flour.

Sara Mathes, RDN, said there are two main categories to gluten issues: gluten intolerance, also known as celiac disease, and gluten sensitivity. She said one of the main misconceptions of people is that there is not a difference between gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity.

The main difference between the two categories, gluten intolerance (celiac disease) and gluten sensitivity, is that those affected by celiac disease have a set of antibodies in their blood along with extreme intestinal damage.

In 2012, a group of researchers in Norway developed this standard that separates the two terms and defines each.

According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, 1 in 133 Americans has celiac disease.

The NFCA defines celiac disease as a genetic autoimmune disease. It affects the villi of the small intestine and prevents the proper absorption of nutrients.

According to the NFCA, 18 million Americans have gluten sensitivity.

The NFCA defines non-celiac gluten sensitivity as an innate immune response, much like an allergic reaction.

Mathes said another common misconception by people is that gluten is only found in wheat.

“Remember the acronym, B.R.O.W.,” Mathes said. “Barley, rye, oats, and wheat.”

Mathes said oats do not originally contain gluten, but many factories that produce oats have cross contamination with gluten products. Mathes said cross contamination is a huge problem for the individuals with celiac disease.

She said B.R.O.W. helps people with both celiac disease and gluten sensitivity because it is easy to remember. Upon being diagnosed with either celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, Mathes said she hands her patient a huge binder. Inside the binder is a detailed list of everything inedible for the affected patient.

“Instead of memorizing the specifics, B.R.O.W. makes it easy for people to be able to read ingredients and feel confident on whether or not they should consume a product,” Mathes said.

Mathes said the symptoms of both celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are quite similar. The symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following: bloating, gas, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation and joint pain.

She said most gluten sensitive individuals will notice peaks and pits of their symptoms, while those affected by celiac disease are in constant struggle with symptoms.

Mathes said there is a huge issue with cross contamination with gluten-free products and gluten products.

“Some people are so intolerant they cannot use the same toaster a person had once placed gluten-rich bread in,” Mathes said.

There are also many day-to-day products that contain gluten- it is not just food items.

“I am not going to be concerned with my toothpaste, my deodorant or my hairspray… I’m just not,” Deb Fulton, a sufferer of gluten sensitivity, said. “You have to draw the line somewhere.”

Fulton was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity five ago. She said she experienced issues with digestion but also a huge part of her symptoms dealt with her fatigue and joint pain.

She said she just did not feel well and was sick of not feeling well so she went to a doctor to figure out why.

When she was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity she said she started cutting gluten out, but knew it would be near impossible to go without it completely.

“If I am putting in 90% effort in cutting out gluten products then I think I am doing just fine,” Fulton said. “But, sometimes I find myself asking if the pizza really worth it.”

According to the NFCA, if a person feels like they may be experiencing issues with gluten the NFCA suggests seeing a doctor and not self-diagnosing. They said receiving professional help is the quickest way to start feeling better.

“Though I miss the fluffiness of breads and pastries, I would not change my new restricted diet for anything,” Grote said. “I feel better than ever!”

Brett Gauger: The Man Who Does It All, Successfully

By definition, a college student is simply a person enrolled in a college or a university. But, what this definition lacks, is the special experience that coincides with being a college student. Whether it is athletics, clubs, a job or volunteer work, most college students today are involved in an activity other than just simply going to school.

Brett Gauger, a senior at IPFW, said without his involvement on and around IPFW’s campus his college-student experience would have been completely different.

He holds a position as the Social Media Coordinator for IPFW and he is a Student Success Coach with Don2Don’s. He has been involved with volunteering as a Marketing Leader for A Better Fort Organization, he is the Social Media Manager for Electric Promotions and he is a part of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership- Millennial 2020.

He is able to participate in activities such as new student orientation, meetings on city development and press conferences because of his involvement.

For Gauger, it is not just “an activity,” it is “all activities”… his list of involvement goes on for hours, literally. The balance between his academic life and personal life came easy to him. He said it is all time management.

Gauger said he is lucky to be so involved. He said he is excited because of the way his involvement has helped shape him for his future.

Gauger has not only made a name for himself, but he has also created an impact throughout campus and northeast Indiana due to his multiple involvements.

Gauger is studying healthcare administration. He said, like many other college students, he has switched his major a few times, but he considers himself a “unique one” because he has never had to switch his degree.

His involvement dates back to a COAS W111 class during the fall semester of his freshman year in 2011.

Jennifer Oxtoby, project manager, office of the chancellor, explained COAS W111 is a class for new students’ success. Oxtoby said the main premise and goal of the course is to connect the students with each other, with their professors and with the university.

Oxtoby taught the COAS W111 course, alongside Greg Anderson, that Gauger was enrolled in during the fall semester of 2011.

“He was a confident, prepared, organized, friendly student,” Oxtoby said about Gauger. “He is just one of those people that knows how to make you feel special.”

Originally, Gauger had plans of transferring to a bigger university such as IU Bloomington or Purdue. He said without COAS W111 helping him become so involved with the professors, other students and the campus in general he would have stuck to his original plan of leaving in December 2011.

“It was around mid-September back during my first semester when I had my ‘this is where I belong’ moment,” Gauger said.

Gauger said he admits to being a busy guy, but during COAS W111 Oxtoby said something which has become a major backbone to his time management during his crazy years of involvement:

“Jennifer Oxtoby said that for the five or so days you are in class, keep your mind in the books, but on Friday, or whenever that academic week ends, treat yourself,” Gauger said.

Gauger said he has lived his academic and social life accordingly.

“Keeping your social life is going to keep you feeling human, rather than just like a robot,” Gauger said.

Gauger always begins his non-school nights asking if what he wants to do is worth it. He uses time management in three categories: priority, value and future. He said if he knows he has an assignment due but he also has an event, he asks himself if it will be worth holding off until the morning or if it is just best to complete it before heading out.

Gauger said he surrounds himself with the people whom he loves. He said living with his family during his college career has helped him tremendously in growing into the person he has become.

“My family is, and always will be, my biggest supporter, I have a good life,” Gauger said.

It is not just Gauger who is supported. He is often the supporter too. Oxtoby said she first started noticing the impact Gauger created when she came across his Twitter feed.

“It is crazy- you will get on his Twitter page and five minutes later there will be a tweet of someone saying their day was made running into Brett on campus,” Oxtoby said.

Gauger has no official plans for “what’s next” upon his graduation in December, but he said if the opportunity were to present itself he would love to stay involved at IPFW.

From a self-proclaimed timid and quiet college freshman to an obviously successful and outgoing college senior, Oxtoby said it best; “He is, I think, somebody that has had significant impact on other students. He is encouraging, and he empowers others to be successful. I think he makes people feel important- and that is what makes him so special.”