The second annual Duneland fireworks extravaganza at Indiana Dunes State
Park (IDSP) was a smashing—call it a booming—success.
IDSP Property Manager Brandt Baughman was unable to give anything like an
exact attendance figure but his best estimate—and “one we’re very
comfortable with”—is that something like 10,000 folks flocked to the beach
on Friday for the display.
“Last year we estimated 7,500,” Baughman said. “We did park several hundred
more vehicles this year due to utilizing Ind. 49” on the approach to the
park. “But the crowd was much bigger than last year’s. A lot of visitors
were car-pooling. Very wisely they were car-pooling, which is something
we’ll promote next year.”
Baughman noted that, at chockfull capacity, beach parking can accommodate
around 1,500 vehicles. “Once we filled it, we directed visitors as they were
coming in to angle-park along the road shoulders of Ind. 49.”
There were no vehicle accidents, Baughman added, and no enforcement or
emergency issues at the event. “We had an exceedingly well behaved crowd,
especially considering the numbers. And we greatly appreciate that.”
The event was spearheaded by the Town of Porter and the Chesterton/Duneland
Chamber of Commerce, with other Tri-Towns making monetary and in-kind
contributions of their own.
July 4 at IDSP
Friday’s firework display was only the beginning, however, of what proved to
be a record-setting weekend at IDSP.
Sunday, July 4—with its hot, sunny weather—was simply huge. “We had gate
revenues we’ve never seen before,” Baughman said. “We surpassed our previous
record by more than $3,000.”
But that will come as no surprise to anyone who visited the park on Sunday.
Once again, after the lots had filled, visitors were directed to park along
Ind. 49. “We control that as far south as State Park Road,” Baughman said.
“Beyond that, it’s very hard for us to have any management or control from a
manpower point of view. It was controlled chaos south of State Park Road to
some degree, especially south of the bridge.”
By 2 to 3 p.m., Baughman observed, some folks were parking in the South
Shore’s Dune Park Station lot—already jammed by those who trained to the
city for Taste of Chicago—or else, as NICTD spokesman John Parsons said,
along U.S. Highway 12 in the neighborhood of Dune Park Station.
A lot of people were using the pedestrian grade-crossing at the station,
which gets them over the tracks and to a wooded trail which leads to Ind.
49, Parsons said.
Sunday was “incredibly big,” Baughman said. We set a gate revenue record for
the DNR and had no major issues. “We basically can’t ask for much more than