Chesterton Tribune

Chesterton's hesitation prompts donations to community July 4th

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Porter Park Board president Rondi Wightman said the Family 4th Fest raised $600 Tuesday after the donors read a news account that the Town of Chesterton declined Monday to commit any funds to the upcoming July 4 community festival.

“(The money) came immediately after they read the ‘No’ from Chesterton. I got a call like at 5 p.m.,” explained Wightman after last night’s Porter Town Council meeting.

The latter council unanimously donated $1,000 to the tri-town festival, which will take place at Porter’s Hawthorne Park where it orginated last year. Wightman said she will request a donation from the Burns Harbor Town Council likely in May.

A fund has been set up at Porter Bank in the name of DuneBIG to accept donations in any amount for 4th Fest.

Zathoe Sexton made one of the two $300 donations received yesterday. “There were so many people (at 4th Fest) last year and we wanted it bigger and better,” she told the Chesterton Tribune. “ If Chesterton can’t help, we will.”

Chesterton Town Council members cited money problems and a planned commitment to a separate lakefront fireworks display as a reason for deferring a donation at this time, but they left the door open to revisit the matter at a later date.

In February the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance cut Chesterton’s 2012 budget to below its 2011 level, in part due to the town missing a publication deadline, but at the time it was stated funds would be available to cover any shortfalls.

Porter Park Board member Patty Raffin last night asked her Town Council for a $500 to $1,000 donation to help defray expenses for the 4th Fest fireworks display; in 2011 about 1,200 viewed the show at Hawthorne, she said.

As it did last year, the 2012 festival will kick off with a July 4 pancake breakfast, parade through Porter, turtle derby, beer garden and food vendors, bingo, brick toss, games and live entertainment prior to the fireworks at dusk. The event is co-sponsored by the Porter Park Department, Duneland Business Initiative Group and Chesterton Lions Club.

Council member Elka Nelson encourged Chesterton and Burns Harbor to support the community event, and their residents to attend. She noted Porter supports the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce fireworks display at the Indiana Dunes State Park.

Porter council president Greg Stinson asked that political candidates not be permitted to participate in the 4th Fest parade. “I’d be opposed to somehow implying our town is supporting one candidate over another.”

In other Hawthorne news, Wightman said this summer the park will host a concert series being coordinated by Dr. Robert Vodnoy, and that the newly formed friends group Bud’s Buddies is making park beautification plans.

Porter park superintendent Jim Miller said this Saturday’s popular children’s Easter egg hunt will begin at 1 p.m. sharp at Hawthorne.



Posted 3/28/2012