Sometime in 1998 Larry Thompson flew into Fort Wayne International Airport, walked out the front doors of the terminal and took a deep breath. “Instead of smelling jet fuel, I smelled the cookies from the bakery across the street. It was like being welcomed home.”
Thompson mentioned that “Welcome Home” smell a year later, when the airport marketing team was looking for inexpensive ways to promote the facility. Soon a team of volunteers were drafted to welcome arriving passengers with individually-wrapped, locally-baked cookies.
The program has been a big success.
The airport has been giving away about 100,000 cookies a year for the past ten years.
And today, TV crews and well-wishers were on hand to help celebrate when it came time to give away the millionth cookie.
To her great surprise, when Lorraine Leach walked off the plane and into the Fort Wayne International terminal, she was greeted not with just a welcome home cookie, but with hearty congratulations and a bunch of prizes.
As the millionth-cookie recipient, Leach was given a box of DeBrand Chocolates and a bag made by Vera Bradley; both companies are based in Fort Wayne. Leach, who was returning to Fort Wayne from Florida, also received 25,000 airline miles.
“I’m also getting a big box of cookies,” says Leach, “So at least I won’t have to bake this Christmas.”