Welcoming in the first flurries of the season, the Valparaiso Parks Foundation Party in the Park Fundraiser lit up the evening with winter festivities and fun-filled activities centered around the William E. Urschel Pavilion Ice Rink, with all funds going towards keeping Valparaiso’s parks vibrant and growing.
“It brings the community together for a night to connect with each other,” John Seibert, director of the Valparaiso Parks Department and Executive Director of the Valparaiso Parks Foundation, said. “We’re especially thankful for the sponsors and people who provide private dollars to help our Foundation. It truly up’s the quality of life that we offer here in Valparaiso.”
The event raised an estimated $40,000 for the Valparaiso Parks Foundation, which Seibert said will help complete the ongoing Tower Park renovations and fund a horticulture center and dog park project on Campbell Street.
“We’re very thankful for the support the community had shown us,” Seibert said. “But along with being a fundraiser, it’s also a ‘friend-raiser’ for people to come out and have fun, and kick off skating season for the rink.”
Skaters had the chance to be the first to break the ice as the park staff officially opened the ice rink for the season, which was especially exciting for the 50 kids who stormed the rink to skate alongside Batman and Wonder Woman. Seibert said that on average, the rink gets 1,000 visitors per day during the winter.
“[The ice rink] projects the vibrancy of our community,” Seibert said. “If a city’s parks or downtown are vibrant and thriving, it shows the community is on an upswing, and this is a visible symbol of that.”
In 2016 Valparaiso was recognized as one of the top 5 great public spaces in the nation by the American Planning Association, in which Seibert said the ice rink and city parks are big contributing factors to Valparaiso’s livelihood. Not only has it attracted businesses and visitors into the city, but has become a buzzing hub for youth.
“I can challenge that this is the most photo-selfied place in the area,” Seibert said. “More selfies are taken here more than anywhere else. This place is for everyone, and it’s been magic for us.”
Which is why event organizers like Jamie Sulcer, Vice-Chairwoman of the Valparaiso Parks Foundation and Chairwoman for the event, wanted the night to be special for the families who support and use Valparaiso’s parks.
“This community is so supportive and generous to us,” Sulcer said. “It’s amazing to see all of these parks developing… and it’s nice to have generations coming back and looking where we’ve been and where we are now.”
Attendees also toured the Indiana Beverage Activity Center featuring skate rentals, a s’more and sundae bar, hot chocolate and more. A tent filled with a variety of cuisine, a cash bar and live music from Chris & Lou Musical Entertainment proved to be the perfect spot for parents to relax while the kids skated. Adding to the winter wonderland feel, 150 elementary schoolers contributed to a snowman mural on the side of the rink for “Art on Ice.”
For James Smith and his family, moving to Valparaiso from Lansing has been the perfect choice, especially for his 8-year-old who loves ice skating.
“It’s something not a lot of communities have,” Smith said. “It’s one of the reasons we moved here a few years ago… This adds to the quality of life. Before, we never went to parks, or rarely did, and now we go to parks all the time and events in Valpo. It makes us want to be more involved in the community, and do more.”
The skating rink is open every day during the winter season with skate rentals available. For hours of operation and more information, please click here.
In addition, check out the Valparaiso Parks Foundation website by clicking here.