Eric Ailes’ wish to have a community skating party at Hawthorne Park fizzled
when this winter proved too warm for the ice to freeze.
The 9-year-old’s efforts were redirected into helping organize and plan a
new Summer Safety Fest for the Porter Park Department.
Eric, a regular at Porter’s summer park program, even chaired a recent
meeting of town officials whose departments are participating in the Safety
The Park Board firmed up details Tuesday for the 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 15
event at Hawthorne.
After the meeting president Rondi Wightman said among the activities will be
a Jaws of Life car extrication demonstration to show teens the consequences
of texting and driving. Firefighters also will let young children hear the
sound of their voice through a breathing apparatus so as not to scare them
if a real emergency occurs.
The Police Department will be issuing children a photo ID with information
needed to help locate them if it becomes necessary, and Park Board member
Nikki Crist said age-appropriate fire safety booklets will be distributed.
Both the Police Department canine and the Fire Department’s new search and
recovery dog will display their respective skills in cooperation with the
Public Works Department that will provide concealed spaces in which to hide.
“There will be a lot of hands-on stuff,” said Wightman, including a
scavenger hunt. Vendors also will be available with refreshments.
The Park Board approved a budget of no more than $300 for the Safety Fest,
but from the audience Town Council president Greg Stinson said since it’s a
townwide event with broad appeal it should be funded by the town and the
matter will be placed on the council’s agenda.
A number of other upcoming summer events were addressed by the Park Board.
Park administrator Stephanie Miller said May 28 at 1 p.m. the Chesterton
American Legion post will conduct the annual Memorial Day ceremony at the
Hawthorne service monument. Park Board member Patty Raffin will be the
The Legion also will have a 2 p.m. May 23 service at the Hawthorne community
building for the Duneland Seniors group.
Miller said the Lakeshore Drifters 4-H club will plant their donated flowers
around the monument, and park superintendent Jim Miller said the Porter
Veterans of Foreign Wars post has indicated a willingness to help support
The popular Porter summer park program starts June 11 and ends July 27 with
a brief hiatus the week of July 4. Children ages 5 through 10 are welcome
from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Hawthorne art barn and west shelter. Stephanie
Miller noted that unlike last summer when a few program days were canceled
due to extreme heat, this year the program will be moved into the
air-conditioned community building as necessary.
June 13 at 7 p.m. the first Hawthorne summer concert will take place
featuring the Valparaiso Community Concert Band presented by Westchester
Public Library. Pre-concert picnicing will be encouraged.
Crist said preparations will be finalized at June 6 and June 27 planning
meetings for July 4’s daylong Family 4th Fest at Hawthorne to celebrate
Independence Day. Vendors are being lined up and a dusk fireworks display is
July 23-26 the four-day Let the Kiddos Do the Cooking class for ‘tweens will
be expanded to include a new two-day class for younger children July 30 and
31. Stinson is the chef instructor. Children learn basic kitchen safety and
Raffin announced the new Bud’s Buddies friends of the parks group meets the
third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. in the community building, where the
Duneland Seniors meet each Wednesday afternoon. In June seniors’ elections
and a day trip to Taltree Arboretum are planned.
Miller announced she had two cancellations so the small community-building
meeting room with kitchen is available both June 10 and June 16. June and
July are the busiest months and cancellations are rare, she explained.
Jim Miller said last month’s Rebuilding Together Duneland had volunteers
helping spread 100 yards of wood chips north of Kids Cove Park; plumbing
upgrades at the Hawthorne ballfield concessions stand are due soon. He also
said he’s trying to determine the best way to remove about 25 stumps at
Hawthorne left following tree removal. Replacement trees were planted.
During public comment Cathy Kuhl of Troop 30313 was given permission to use
the Hawthorne footbridge and shelter free of charge June 9 for a fly-up
ceremony for Daisies to Brownies.