Valparaiso is one of the most bustling and vibrant cities in the Region, but on Saturday hundreds gathered to tour the community at its quietest, the dead of night, for the Valpo Park’s annual Night Ride.
About eight years ago, Valpo Parks Executive Assistant Helene Pierce, inspired by similar events in Chicago and Indianapolis, decided to organize a night ride for Valpo. The event sees roughly 250 cyclists tour the city at night along a 15-mile course, with mid-ride snacks from Family Express and Little Caesars. The ride kicked off at Butterfield Family Pavilion at about 10 PM, lighting the streets with headlamps, glow sticks, and safety lights.
“This is about enjoying the city of Valparaiso in a completely different atmosphere,” said Pierce. “Everybody sees the hubbub during the day, so we like to slow things down under the stars. Some of the people here are diehards who have been out all eight years.”
Despite scattered storms that delayed the start-time, nearly 300 riders waited out the rain to join in on the fun. Some participants were not only Night Ride veterans, but also avid cyclists, such as Bill Stocky.
“What makes this special is the community; I know about half of the people here,” Stocky said. “Valpo Park’s community outreach is so great. Everybody’s your neighbor, and everybody’s your brother. It’s just a great, laid-back community.”
The event also brought more than fun; it helped do good work in the Region. Stocky is also a part of Northwest Indiana Clean Air, who partnered with Valpo Parks to bring their “Project Lightning Bug” to the event, which aims to give out 3,000 free bike lights while spreading air quality educational material. Valpo Parks also plans to use some of the funds raised to work on the pathway system in the city, including beautiful places like the Vale Park West pathway.
The volunteers that made the event possible love taking part in that work, including Gabby Newton and the Key Club from Washington Township. She and the rest of the club helped serve snacks and drinks to riders at the William E. Urschel Pavilion, which served as the mid-point for the ride.
“The entire town gets involved in this, I mean just look at the sponsors providing food,” Newton said. “And the event itself is really different, I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s a great way to meet new people and have a lot of fun. I’d like to be on the other side of the ride sometime!”
Valpo Parks sent thanks to their primary sponsors, Urschel and Currie Motors of Valpo, and their food sponsors: Porter Health, Coastal Valley Water, Family Express, and Little Caesars. Learn more about Valpo Parks and upcoming events at www.valpoparks.org.