Independence Day Gives the Region a Reason to Celebrate

By: Brett Fuller Last Updated: July 2, 2014

4th-of-july-2014Independence Day Weekend in Northwest Indiana gives a great opportunity to get out, enjoy their community and celebrate our nation's birth. Ideas in Motion Media is out and about celebrating right there with you, capturing the best shots of parades, fireworks, kids, parents, and all of the great organizations that are putting on and participating in big celebrations across the region.

From the huge Duneland Chamber of Commerce Fireworks on the Lakefront through Michigan City's BIG Parade, we captured several of Northwest Indiana's community celebrations with photos and some words from those who were there. Click below to see the photos and scroll down to see how the region celebrated 2014 Independence Day!

Duneland Chamber Fireworks on the Lakefront

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The Indiana Dunes fireworks crowd started gathering at 6:00pm, later than last year's. Overcast skies and dropping temps didn't dampen the crowd's spirits. Rowdy teens and happy toddlers, kids and elders alike were in anticipation of this year's grand fireworks display. Each year, on July 2, the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, along with the Town of Porter, put on a breath-taking array of cracks and explosions spanning the night sky and reflected in Lake Michigan's summer waters. This year, Miss Duneland herself, Courtney Jurick, of Chesterton, sang our National Anthem. A variety of vendors are selling drinks, ice cream, some food and snacks. People kept warm by playing football, beach volleyball, Frisbee, running, castle-building, wave stomping, Softball catch, bicycle riding, huddling, flying kites, picnicking, beanbag toss, hiding—Just to name a few- Unfortunately, the show failed to roll by 9:50pm despite everyone's great attitudes!

"I am happy to be here watching the fireworks, rather than working downtown Chicago; representing my hometown and singing the National Anthem," Courtney Jurick, Miss Duneland, said.

Cedar Lake Summerfest

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The annual Cedar Lake Summerfest provided two nights of fireworks and fun on the 3rd and 5th. The Summerfest has been celebrating this event for 33 years. It started out as a town picnic and has evolved into a great little fest for the blossoming community. With more than 1,000 visitors, the Summerfest continues to be a great way to celebrate The 4th of July.

“Every day we have vendors, food, bingo, a beer garden, and amusement rides. The biggest attraction is the cardboard race after the Land Parade. We also have live entertainment nightly,” said Event Coordinator, Debbie James.

“This is always a fun event to bring the kids to. There's always something to see and good food to eat,” said on-goer, Rachel Kelley.

New this year was the BMX Stunt Show that takes place on Saturday. Fun for all ages is the goal for the Cedar Lake Summerfest. Good food, music and even a balloon fest kept the attendees at the Summerfest having an eventful night.

Highland Twilight Parade

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The Highland Twilight Parade dominated Kennedy Drive on Friday night. Patriotic floats made their way down the street as candy was tossed to waiting, laughing children on either side of the street. The crowd was a sea of red, white, and blue as everyone dressed appropriately for the occasion. Before the parade, the All-American Mile Run literally started the festivities off on the right foot. The parade was one of many events taking place during Independence Day weekend. A kiddie parade took place earlier in the day, and there will be a multi-day carnival, and fireworks.

 "The Twilight Parade is a Highland tradition. This will be my 4th year as chairman of the parade and it is a great honor as well as a great amount of work. Attendance is around 50,000 with nearly 100 entries every year. The parade is just a small part of the party that Highland throws every year to celebrate the USA's birthday. With fireworks on the 4th and a 5-day carnival, Highland takes the 4th very seriously,"Erica Wolak, Parade Chairman, said.

Merrillville Town Parade

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It was a beautiful way to end the evening on July 3 for the annual Merrillville Independence Day Parade. It was a event that no local missed. Carol Miano, Town Council President wouldn't miss this parade for anything, as she stated, “My favorite thing about this parade is that it brings everyone together as a community. Its the greatest thing that I could ask for.”

Town Council Vice President, Shawn Pettit, strongly agreed, loving that the day bring all of the community together. Other locals gathered because of family tradition, fun, enjoyment, and in celebration. Many groups, businesses, and clubs were in attendance and made this parade such a fun and enjoyable one.

Schererville Fireworks Celebration

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Schererville hosted their fireworks display on the night of July 3. Thousands of people showed up to Rohrman Park in order to see the dazzling display.

Schererville Parks Department Superintendent John Novacich said that the town’s fireworks show is one of the best, “I think due to the ground displays, the changes every year within the show itself, the surprises we bring out, and the amount of effort that’s put into making the fireworks show unique makes it a really spectacular night. I know people won’t leave disappointed.”

People were surely enjoying the night, because not only were there fireworks at dusk but Mark McDaniel DJ’d at the park. There was also face painting, concessions that included snow cones, and multiple contests to win prizes. Families set up their blankets, lawn chairs, grills - and even teepees - all over Rohrman Park hours before the main show started. Locals and travellers made themselves comfortable within the lively atmosphere.

Tradition is a stronghold for Schererville’s fourth celebrations. Residents within the surrounding neighborhoods stayed within the comfort of their back yards, have BBQs and hosting their own parties. Even if local residents weren’t lucky enough to live near Rohrman Park, many still make the trip year after year to be awed by the spectacular display. Old, young, and four legged each made Schererville’s fireworks the place to be.

Munster Fireworks Celebration

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The party-going in Munster kicked off at 6 p.m., with live entertainment from local crowd pleasers JAMROSE, who belted out an eclectic mix of classic rock and modern pop dance tunes. Good eats and patriotic treats came courtesy of area non-profit organizations and local restaurants, including but not limited to: Cupcakes By Design, Chit-town Hot Steaks & Lemonade, and Freddy's Steak House.

After hours of anticipation, the evening finally unfolded into night, all lights were snuffed, and up burst fireworks galore - colorful, boisterous, dazzling to the eyes watching from below.

Amanda from Schererville, who had brought her daughter Olivia to watch the fireworks, was happy to attend. It was her daughter's first time watching a fireworks display and hers as well: "I've actually never been, but we're excited," she commented. When asked if she thought the loud noises might scare both of them, she smiled and said, "we just won't know unless we try."

Aaron Luchon, there with his son Bradley, had attended many fireworks shows in the past. During Munster's 4th of July celebration last year, he worked at his family's food tent. However, this time around Aaron was spending the evening playing with his son and treating himself to some of the fare: "I actually worked at El Salto’s last year, for my mom. Tonight, I'm just enjoying the festivities. I'm thinking with all the storms and everything, people are just happy to be out. And it's America, it's America's birthday!"

Aaron was right. Munster residents and visitors were more than happy to be outside, spending time with family and friends and soaking up the night-time atmosphere of the biggest birthday of the year - our nation's Independence Day!

 

La Porte Jaycees Parade

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The 68th Jaycees' Annual La Porte Parade kicked off today with a fly-over from local military planes and traveled along a 2.5 mile route on Highway 2 through downtown. ​Spectators were allowed to stake out their space 24-hours in advance to try and get the optimal space for the parade.

Melissa Bunton, a La Porte resident, said "We have been coming to the parade for the last five years and this is the biggest in the state. We like coming because it is really big and the kids love it for the candy." Joining Melissa was Patsy Kane from Valparaiso, who agreed with Melissa, "It is a friendly and fun morning, and a great to spend time with family and friends."

The morning started off with the La Porte Kiwanis 5k that ran through town. Runners were able to enjoy the flat course and parade goers that were cheering them on as they went to their staked out spaces. Overall male winner was Sam Miller (17:01) and female overall winner was Marie Didion (21:18).

“We​ have around 110 floats or groups that are participating in this year’s parade. Every year it continues to grow in popularity which is great for our community. We anticipate approximately 40-50,000 people will line the route today,” said Joy Zigler of the LaPorte Jaycees.“This is actually the largest parade in the state and we were proclaimed ‘Capital of the Day’ by the governor. It is a great tradition along with our fly-over that our local guys were able to do for us today.”

T-Berry's Diner hosted a hamburger eat-off between three football players from New Prairie High School and La Porte High School. In the end it was the team from New Prairie that won the burger battle. The Athletic Department will receive $100, and the LaPorte Athletic Department will receive $50.

 

Long Beach Parade

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Temps in the low 70s, blue skies and beach lovers from near and far made for a perfect way to start the Fourth of July celebration in Long Beach, which held their annual parade around the Old School Community Center and Town Hall Friday morning.

“You couldn’t ask for a better day,” said Jane Moon, a member of the Long Beach Garden Club - a group that has planted and maintained gardens throughout the town for more than 80 years. The Club was featured as the Grand Marshalls of the parade, the second time they have been given that distinction.

The parade is a favorite for Long Beach residents and visitors such as Cheryl Fredenburg and her daughter Kimberly, who live in California but make it a yearly tradition to stay at their home in Long Beach on the Fourth of July.

“This place is special,” Cheryl said. “I went to school here and my daughter has been to the parade every year since she was a baby. Now that she is in college, it’s so great to be able to continue the tradition.”

The parade itself is made up of several golf carts that are decorated creatively by participants and entered into a contest prior to the parade’s kickoff.

“The ‘lawn chair brigade’ is always my favorite float,” Kimberly said.

Kimberly was joined by Celia Waber, her roommate at Purdue University and a Muncie, Ind. native who had never been to Long Beach prior to the parade.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s so cool that this community comes together for this. Where I come from, we do not do anything like this for the Fourth of July.”

Whiting 4th of July Parade

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Citizens gathered in the streets of Whiting to celebrate the 4th of July parade’s 125th anniversary in grand fashion, as the Honorary Grand Marshal was none other than the real Mickey and Minnie Mouse. The two were followed by the Whiting High School pep band. Several special guests participated in the parade, such as Linda Lawson, Frank Mrvan, and Pete Visclosky.

Whiting resident Linda Smith stated, “The 4th of July parade is the one event that everyone in town celebrates together. Class, race, social standing aside, everyone loves the 4th of July! Whiting sure knows how to celebrate it.”

Portage Independence Day Parade

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The Portage parade was packed as ever with people of all ages coming out to see the wide selection of people and places representing the Northwest Indiana community.

“Every year, this is a great way to see everyone in Portage come out and celebrate all of the great people that made sacrifices for our freedoms, and also just to see their neighbors and to celebrate the great city of Portage,”Portage Parks Department Superintendent Jenny Osburn said.

Many of the spectators enjoy the parade for similar reasons.

“It’s great to see so many people get involved with the community to support our country,” Alyssa Rosales said.

Of course, as traveling the parade route has changed to the method of just using cars and pickup trucks, there is one Fourth of July tradition that is slowly sliding out of parades.

“I just miss those days were there were actual floats,” Rosales said.

Hobart 4th of July Parade

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A beautiful day and energetic atmosphere always makes for a great parade! Everyone lined the streets of the parade route in Hobart today to enjoy all the great entries passing by the crowds.

Lisa Winstead from the Hobart Chamber of Commerce states, “There are 75 entries in the parade this year. Certificates will be awarded after the entries are judged by 5 random judges with results being posted on their website later in the day. Paul Throne and wife Ruth are the Grand Marshals this year. Mr.Throne has worn many hats in the School System, having been a teacher, counselor and coach!”

Don’t forget to come out to the Revelli Bandshell later this evening to watch the Fireworks display.

Crown Point Independence Day Parade

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Crown Point's Independence Day Parade showed its stars and stripes on a warm, picturesque July 4. The parade made its way down the through the town's historic Main Street, which was lined with thousands of spectators.

The theme for the parade was "Petals on Parade", which is in honor of the Grand Marshall Dolores Bremer. Young kids decorated their bikes in red, white, and blue and were entered into a competition for the best looking bike. Not only were there bikes on parade, but many floats as well.

"To break it down there were 15 floats, 8 vans, and 124 entries," Parade Co-Chair Scott Billeck said. "The citizens of Crown Point have been more than generous in response to the parade. They love the parade as much as we do and it's great to see. For instance: some people set up their tents a day or two before the parade is under way. That's dedication."

Valpo 4th of July Celebration

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Citizens of Valparaiso laid their picnic blankets and set up their lawn chairs behind Thomas Jefferson Elementary and Middle Schools to witness the annual 4th of July fireworks. The evening was filled with food, music, fireworks, and special activities. One of these activities was a group reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Brian Williams, coordinator of the Declaration of Independence reading stated, "We have everyone from educators to students to veterans participating in this year's Declaration of Independence reading. It's a group from all different walks of life."

One of the participants he was referring to was John Wolf, World War II Veteran. All in all, the evening was a fantastic moment for the community of Valparaiso to bond and celebrate our country's 238th birthday.

 

Crown Point 4th of July Celebration

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Crown Point ended the 4th of July weekend with a bang. The city hosted its annual fireworks display at the Lake County Fairgrounds when the darkness settled.

This year's event was sponsored by Mike Anderson Chevrolet, who has been a sponsor for three years now. The event hosts thousands of people from Crown Point and the surrounding areas who make this specific display of colorful fireworks their prime destination. While families got themselves settled on their blankets, truck beds and chairs, concessions were available up on the hill that were a perfect addition to the great spectacle.

Before the main event, fireworks from surrounding neighborhoods could be seen wherever heads were turned, and they acted as a great precursor to the main show. When the fireworks show did start there were many wows and sounds of awe, and even a few shouts of, "America!"

There was one statement that stood out the most which is when four-year-old Ryan Huss stated, "Now that's how you do fireworks!"

 

Hammond 4th of July Celebration

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A sunset over the lake, soothing music from the Bill Porter Orchestra and a spectacular fireworks display was just the right way to cap off Independence Day 2014 at Wolf Lake Pavilion in Hammond.

“This is the best fireworks and entertainment show in the area,” said Hammond resident Ed Anslemo, who was making his second straight appearance at the yearly celebration organized by the Hammond Port Authority. Anslemo, who arrived early enough to grab front row seats for the music part of the evening with his girlfriend Ann Hudson, a Hammond resident for 40 years, said “we loved it last year, and that’s why we are back.”

Primary event organizer Jill Gajewski of the Port Authority said the night was “perfect.”

“We have just enough wind for a breeze, but not enough to mess with the fireworks,” she said. “It’s a nice calm night, absolutely the best weather we’ve had in four years for this.”

Michigan City BIG Parade

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Michigan City Summer Festival’s 59th Annual Summer Parade began promptly at 11am, touting big floats, big excitement, and even bigger smiles. The parade celebrated “The Miracle on Mount Baldy” with Parade Grand Marshal Nathan Woessner, along with his family, leading the way. Nathan had been rescued after falling into a deep hole at the massive dune just last summer. The parade adopted its theme in recognition of Nathan’s survivor spirit and the idea that miracles truly do happen.

While Nathan sat atop the Grand Marshal’s trailer, a bit shy but happy to be participating, Nathan’s father Greg Woessner commented that the family was very honored to be a part of the Big Parade. “We’re excited, we’re all excited today,” he said, displaying a white “Miracle on Mount Baldy” shirt with Nathan’s picture, made special for the event.

Other families and friends, residents and onlookers, joined in the parade and watched from sidewalks. From 11th and Franklin on southward, fire engines, veterans, marching bands, and colorful floats made their way past waving arms and American flags.

Over 100 groups participated in this year’s festivities, many of them Michigan City organizations, non-profits and local and state representatives. Dennis Schultz, driver for Indiana Senator Jim Arnold and his wife, reminisced of parades past and his role in the Michigan City Exchange Club.

”Our motto was, ‘Give a Kid a Flag to Wave!’ Because we were the first ones out, we’d hand them to everybody and then get to watch the parade as it went by. A bit smaller now than it was back then, not as many floats I mean, but it’s been around for many years [the parade] and it’s still going,” Dennis said.

Gene Kellish, of Michigan City, was riding with friends and club participants on the Polish Business and Professional Club of Michigan City float.

“This is our second year in the parade,” he said, “And even though we don’t get to see much of what’s happening because we’re in it, we look forward to taking part and waving to the people. It’s a good way to promote our Polish festival on September 14th and be part of something in the community.”

A “big” part of Michigan City’s summer season, the 59th Annual Summer Parade proved one to remember. Under sunny skies and with a cool breeze on their backs, the community marched, drove, and even danced through the main corridor of town. It was the perfect day to celebrate summer, the city, and the miracles that make a difference in our lives.