Jack Frost certainly had an endless buffet of noses to nip on Friday night at Central Park Plaza, but the people of Northwest Indiana didn't let the freezing temperatures ice over their spirits. The annual Downtown Holly Days Festival on Friday kicked off with a chilled but certainly impressive bang for the annual post-autumn festivities. A yearly event, Holly Days has always been a standout in the long lineup of events that makes Valparaiso what it is.
The giving and community mentality of the holidays is embodied by the festival with local community and business leaders putting aside their busy lives and business rivalries to bring a rich pallet of activities and entertainment to the city. Businesses such as Pick's, Tommy B's, Margarita's and Martin Binder offered a complimentary ornament with every purchase made, as well as a raffle for the "World's Largest Stocking." The all but iced over streets were crowded with vendors like a Nordic Bazaar, adding their own unique contribution to make Holly Days the unique event that it has come to be.
Jennifer Peek, of Valparaiso Community Festival and Events, said "I love just how many families it draws out, and it's turning into an annual tradition for some as well." Swarms of children eagerly queued up to board one of the NIPSCO trains for their turn to ride down the closed off streets with their parents.
"There really is something for everyone" Peek said. "There's the train for the kids, live music for the parents, and more than enough downtown dining options to make the whole family happy. Most of all the way Holly Days brings everyone in Valparaiso together is just another reason why this city is so great, and really highlights the spirit of the season"
With the sun having set more than an hour before, Holly Days was covered with the ambiance of an obsidian black sky and the pearl white flakes of snow falling in contrast to the air. The sounds of chainsaws and children's laughter oddly, but nicely harmonizing into the tune of the day that we as Valparaisians know and love as Holly Days. The warmth of the mutual spirit shared over such times was more than enough to keep the frostbite at bay as the evening slowed down, and once more proved to be a prime of example of what makes this city home for locals, and visitors alike.