Fort Wayne International Airport Gives Out Two Millionth Arrival Cookie
Fort Wayne, Ind. – Fort Wayne International Airport (FWA) hosted a celebration over 15 years and 85,000 volunteer hours in the making: handing out the two millionth cookie to an arriving passenger. The airport tradition of welcoming passengers to Fort Wayne with a cookie is carried out by volunteer Hospitality Hosts seven days a week, and today, on August 18, 2016 FWA celebrated this milestone cookie with the community. Airport staff knew that the two millionth cookie was coming and created a celebration with prizes from event partners Ellison Bakery and Allegiant.
FWA’s longest-serving hospitality host, Gary Wigent, was ready for the sugar-sweet moment in history. His royal blue hospitality host vest was crisp, his name tag shiny, the wicker basket in his hand filled with cookies in that familiar FWA wrapper. For Wigent this volunteer shift was extra special, with a ceremonial cookie cut-out and more spectators and balloons than usual. “I’m honored to get to hand out the two millionth cookie. The cookies make people smile, and I like being a part of that,” Wigent said.
Just after 10:00 AM Adrianne Conner and her four year old daughter Lyla Peden exited their Allegiant flight from Punta Gorda, Florida. Residents of Hicksville, Ohio, Conner and Peden didn’t know to expect a cookie upon arrival at FWA, and certainly didn’t know a milestone was waiting. Peden led the pair and walked into the waiting crowd, greeted by Wigent, balloons, cameras, and a large “2 Millionth Cookie Winner” cut out. “Lyla loves cookies so winning the two millionth cookie is perfect for her,” Conner said. “This was a special surprise and a wonderful end to a great vacation.” In addition to the two millionth cookie, Conner and Peden also received FWA gear, a year of FWA cookies provided by Ellison Bakery, and an Allegiant prize package with travel accessories and 4 $200 flight vouchers provided by Allegiant.
“The cookies are our way of making each passenger feel welcomed and to put something fun into a day of travel,” said Scott Hinderman, Executive Director of Airports for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority. “It’s even better that we have partners in the community and the airline industry who want to celebrate with us. Both Ellison Bakery and Allegiant understand the importance of customer service and we’re very happy they decided to partner with us for this.”
Todd Wallin, President of Ellison Bakery, also joined the crowd. “We understand the impact this small gesture can have on someone visiting Fort Wayne for the first time or coming back after being away for a while,” said Wallin. “The FWA cookies are fun for us. It’s great to know we’re part of that moment, too.” Although a representative for Allegiant couldn’t be present for the celebration, they sent well wishes. “Allegiant is excited to be a part of such a great milestone at the Fort Wayne International Airport,” said Jude Bricker, Allegiant chief operating officer. “The Fort Wayne community is very important to us, and we look forward to continued partnership in the time to come.”
As the celebration calmed down, Conner and Peden made their way to baggage claim, richer by dozens of cookies and some help for a future vacation for their family of four. When asked what she planned to do with all those cookies, Conner replied, “I guess I need to pick up some milk.”
About Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority
The Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority was created in 1985 and is responsible for managing Fort Wayne International Airport (FWA) and Smith Field Airport. The airport authority is governed by a six-member board appointed by the Mayor of Fort Wayne and the Allen County Commissioners. Serving northeast Indiana and the surrounding region, FWA offers nonstop service to 12 cities on four airlines. In 2015, FWA served 715,907 passengers - an 11 percent increase over 2014. For more information about the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority, visit www.FWAirport.com.