Stars Shine Bright at Valpo Parks Foundation’s “Party in the Park”

On the shore of beautiful Spectacle Lake in Rogers-Lakewood Park, friends and supporters of the Valpo Parks Foundation gathered at the "Party in the Park," a benefit to support the rebuilding of ValPLAYso Park - Next Generation!

The guests enjoyed an array of delicious food and beverages provided by Bon Femme and Around The Fire, while being entertained by the music of the Chris and Lou Band. As everyone enjoyed the food and entertainment, it was a precursor to the fun and laughs of the event ahead.

When asked why the event is special, Kaye Frataccia, General Co-Coordinator of ValPLAYso-Next Generation, replied "The rebuilding of ValPLAYso is special because I see it as a way to bring all ages and parts of the community together to work toward a common goal." She added, "In the process, new friends are made and the next generation can learn from parents and grandparents and other adult role models. The children of the community have been given a chance to have their voices heard as they helped design the playground of their dreams. It's an amazing example of teamwork!"

And we're live in 3...2...1...

As Rick Urschel, President and CEO of Urschel Laboratories and emcee for the event, excitedly took the stage and contestants took their seats, he welcomed everyone to Valpo Game Night. A game mimicking the popular NBC show Hollywood Game Night, pitted 2 Valpo celebrity teams, the "Zip Kroozers", featuring Chris Campbell of Centier Bank, Mark Ritzi of Horizon Bank, Cheryl Harmon of Porter Health, and Carol Costakis of Porter County Community Foundation against the "Spider Climbers" featuring, Monica Flanigan-Decker of Flanigan Bulk Mail, City Councilman Tim Daly, Nick Sommer of Century 21 Alliance, and Gwen Rapley.

The "Zip Kroozers" team emerged the victors! "It's a great opportunity to have a lot of fun and raise money for the parks." said Daly.

Laughter abounded as the audience listened and watched the contestants act, sing, and charade the clues to the questions they were asked. Other activities during the evening included the auction of the original Valplayso sign, which hung at the park until last week.

Personalized fence pickets that will adorn the new park were also offered for purchase.

"The Park Foundation is all about fostering volunteerism and private support of our park system. The great qualities we have, has been a result of that volunteerism and private sector support. We're really thankful for that," said John Seibert, Executive Director, Valparaiso Parks Foundation. "This is a night for people to come to gather to celebrate our community." he added.

Barbie Johnson, Administrative Assistant for Valparaiso Parks Department and Valpo Parks Foundation said, "The first community build of ValPLAYso was in 1994, the park was a completely wooden structure. Play equipment standards are different now than they were 20 years ago. It was time to give it a facelift for safety reasons.", "In the end, it's another great opportunity to have an inspiring project for the community to come together again."

"It's really exciting for me to be a part of something that's going to be the beginning of something that my family will enjoy for years to come." said Wade Breitzke, We Create Media owner and Foundation board member.

Former Park Foundation president and current "Party in the Park" committee member, Julia Hess shared, "The highlight of the evening was seeing a room full of people who are so dedicated to the parks and who are in favor of all the wonderful things that will be happening at ValPLAYso."

Monica Flanigan-Decker, Co-Chair of the ValPLAYSO Children's Committee said, "I've been inspired by the involvement and ideas of the children. They realized that no matter the age, everyone can help in some way!"

Jamie Sulcer, Chairperson of the "Party in the Park" committee, felt the need to help because her family frequently visited the parks. "It's a great event for my daughter and myself to focus our energies on.", she said.

The building of ValPLAYso-Next Generation! is set to begin in October. The project, completely constructed and funded by volunteers, will be rebuilt with state of the art materials. The rebuild will begin on October 6th and will be completed by October 12th.

Volunteers are needed, and may sign up at or contact the Valparaiso Parks Department.

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