Rick Zolman knows it takes a team effort to pull off a major event in downtown Fort Wayne. The Events & Programming Manager for Downtown Fort Wayne has developed many of them since taking the job in 2017.
The position requires a lot of planning and a good sense of humor. No event is more demanding than the biggest night of the year. The “Night of Lights” on the day before Thanksgiving is the annual prelude to the holiday and the beginning of the “HolidayFest”.
Thousands will flock downtown on Wednesday to see the traditional illumination of the Santa Display on the side of the PNC bank building and several coordinated illuminations, all carefully planned months in advance.
Zolman will don one of his signature top hats for the evening and says it’s an honor to be a part of something that means so much to the community. “We are very proud of our work. It’s our responsibility to make sure these things start on time and that we get them done safely. Keeping crowds safe is a big part of our day-to-day work and a responsibility we take seriously.”
While events surrounding the holiday get the most attention, Zolman and his team are busy year-round planning events to draw people downtown.
Recent events like Downtown Live! on Friday evenings in the summer really took off. Zolman says the event showcases local musicians and all the exciting changes happening on The Landing. “We had over 25,000 participants this year and that is a direct result of the efforts of our team and the organization I work for.”
Other events such as Lunch on the Square, Fright Night and Buskerfest showcase the city and all it has to offer. “When you’re down here,” says Zolman. “You can feel the positivity.” While the job certainly comes with its many stressful behind-the-scenes moments, it’s clear that Zolman loves what he does.
“I don’t think I could do my job without having fun. We work long hours and it can be stressful, but the moments of hilarity where you can just laugh at yourself help balance things out.”
Lou Cucinelli, Creative Services Director of WANE15, works closely with Zolman on several events. He says he has the right attitude for the job. “Rick is good at balancing work and play. These are all fun events and it takes a fun personality to put on a fun event.”
Alicia Pyle is a local musician who has performed at several downtown events over the years. “Being an events coordinator can be extremely stressful, but Rick handles it with flying colors. It sets the tone as a leader when you walk in with a smile and a positive attitude. People follow you and trust you because they know it will turn out well.”
The former Garrett Railroader basketball player approaches events with an athletic mentality. “You’re only as good as your last event,” he says. “We try to make every event better from year to year.”
Zolman says he’ll hibernate like a bear when the holidays are over and another successful year is on the books. “The satisfaction comes from knowing that we planned and executed this and that things went amazingly well. We are very proud of this.”
In his free time, Rick enjoys volunteering to help children. He has been part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana Real Men Read program for the past eight years and is very active in the Rotary Club of Fort Wayne.
It’s easy to see why Rick Zolman and his team at Downtown Fort Wayne are POSITIVE FORT WAYNE!
https://www.wane.com/news/positively-fort-wayne/the-many-faces-of-downtown-fort-waynes-rick-zolman/ Rick Zolman is Positively Fort Wayne and takes it to downtown Fort Wayne