The Carly Report: Music and Fun at Arts in the Park

By: Carly Kwiecien Last Updated: June 22, 2015

Summer is about exploration - it is a time where one can travel through an unfamiliar aspect of life and learn more about it. It is an opportunity to discover new music, while one may also enjoy their favorite musical hits. It is a season where there is nothing more luxurious than sitting outdoors with a bag of popcorn in hand, loved ones nearby and having a tasteful musical number to listen to while drifting into the sunset.

On Wednesday and Thursday evenings, exploration is possible at Fox Park, as part of the Arts in the Park summer series.

The music is so powerful at times; its vibrations reverberate throughout the hillside. Dancing is a common occurrence at many of these performances.

Arts in the Park is a way to raise “art awareness” in La Porte. This non-for-profit organization allows a variety of musicians and poets to perform in front of a live audience with a lakeside view. For example, the La Porte City Band will be performing on Wednesday, June 24. On Thursday, June 25, HiFi2WiFi will be welcomed to the stage. Both performances will begin at 7:00 p.m.

The following Thursday, Cripple Creek will be performing at Stone Lake Beach at 7:00 p.m., with pre-concert Zumba instructed by Tom Coe from 6:00 – 6:45 p.m.

In addition to music and poetry, there will also be an art exhibit available for viewing pleasure.

This tradition was started fifteen years ago by Kitty and Bill Wolf, as a way to extend the La Porte City Band’s season.

The La Porte City Band is the oldest continuous band in the state of Indiana. It moved into the current facility at Fox Park after its construction in 1975, which was later named the Dennis F. Smith Amphitheater.

“We are grateful to the Wolf family for all their time and devotion to the project. The City Band is grateful for the assistance of Arts in the Park,” said Chuck Steck, Director of the La Porte City Band.

The Wolf’s interest in the arts stood behind them as their vision of creating a mini Ravinia Festival became visible.

“[Bill and I] stayed after the concerts one summer evening and asked director of the La Porte City Band, Jim Burden, how we could extend the season. He said [it would only be possible] with more funding,” Kitty Wolf said.

Wolf went on to talk with La Porte’s mayor, park superintendent, organizations and other individuals who were involved with arts within the community.

With the help of local patrons, their vision soon became a reality. Wolf and her husband raised enough money to buy their own popcorn machine. They were also able to fund one additional concert that season.

“Without the wonderful volunteers, our donors and the hundreds of people on the hill who donate money for the cookies, popcorn and iced drinks, there would be no Arts in the Park,” Wolf said.

Kitty and Bill co-chaired Arts in the Park through its formative years, but recently, the board members voted Lisa Wolf Smithson, daughter of Kitty and Bill, to hold the position of Executive Director.

“For the last several years, four of our five adult children and their children who live here have been active in Arts in the Park. As I have stepped down, Lisa has stepped up to the responsibilities I have had,” Wolf said.

Smithson has been volunteering with Arts in the Park for roughly eight years. In her current position, she organizes all of the different committees and sub-committees that help put the concerts, art exhibits and poetry readings together.

“Different, neat and positive organizations such as Tri-Kappa Associates, La Porte Symphony, La Porte Little Theatre, La Porte Service League and La Porte County Public Library partner with us. It brings us all together to remind us that we’re all here to bring out the best in La Porte,” Smithson said.

To learn more about Arts in the Park, go to