The holiday season in Michigan City officially got underway Saturday with the annual Festival of Lights Parade and Chili cookoff in Washington Park.
Some 15 floats lined Fedder’s Alley and Parker Parkway to help usher in the holiday spirit and serve as a prelude to the popular chili contest and the unveiling of the Washington Park lights display, which is a popular attraction for city residents and visitors in the winter.
“The weather was brutal, but (City At-Large Councilman) Joe Doyle made me ride on the (Summer Festival) float anyway,” said Fifth Ward City Councilman and Summer Festival board member Duane Parry.
Parry said the chili cookoff, held inside the much warmer Senior Center had “a really nice turnout” despite the freezing temperatures outside.
Participants paid $5 to taste a cup of chili from all competitors, which included the Michigan City Senior Center, Michigan City Exchange Club, Michigan City Police Department, Michigan City Port Authority and the Wall Gang of Michigan City.
Sandy Kintzele, the mastermind behind the Wall Gang’s chili that took home first prize in 2011, said the event had “a wonderful turnout” and finishing in second last year to the Exchange Club provided extra motivation to regain her crown.
“It’s just a nice home recipe we do every year,” she said.
Michael Little, of WEFM radio, said the chili was “not bad” this year.
“There’s something distinctive about each one,” he said. “I don’t know the rules of this particular competition, but I wish someone would had put some cilantro on this.”
Michigan City resident Dave Willett is not a fan of chili, but enjoyed his time with wife, Patricia, who is.
“This is nice, but no chili for me today,” he said, noting that he plans to come to the event again next year for the positive experience.
The Boerema family made a special trip to the cookoff to celebrate the first Christmas of their newborn, Jamison, who is less than a month old.
“It was good to get the kids out of the house and do something special for Jamison for his first Christmas,” Andrea Boerema said.