Valpo Parks’ Winter Fest warms Valparaiso with holiday cheer

Valpo Parks’ Winter Fest warms Valparaiso with holiday cheer

The Valparaiso Parks and Recreation department hosted its annual Winter Fest on Saturday, November 26. The event featured several activities for attendees to enjoy, including ice skating performances, caroling by Chesterton High School and Valpo High School choirs, pictures with Santa, and, of course, the tree lighting.

Valpo Parks Winterfest & Tree Lighting 2022

Valpo Parks Winterfest & Tree Lighting 2022 48 Photos
Valpo Parks Winterfest & Tree Lighting 2022Valpo Parks Winterfest & Tree Lighting 2022Valpo Parks Winterfest & Tree Lighting 2022Valpo Parks Winterfest & Tree Lighting 2022

As temperatures began to cool for the day, Valpo residents gathered to ring in Christmas with holiday cheer. Even before the event started, people were lined up to take pictures with Santa, and they kept coming. 

“I think that we're so fortunate to have all of the great events that bring the community together,” said Cristina Darr, special events director for Valpo Parks. “I think that it's important that we have this event and light the tree. It's the kickoff of the holiday season. We also get to showcase some great talent from the Region.”

Valpo Parks worked hard with its sponsors, such as 1st Source who handed out free hot chocolate throughout the night, as well as community staff and volunteers to create a bigger, better experience than Winter Fests of the past. Without them, it would have been impossible to pull off the event.

“We tried to create a lot of different experiences this year that we think people will enjoy,” said Assistant Director Kevin Nuppnau. “The importance of events like this is bringing people together – especially during the holidays. We're glad to see so many people here enjoying Winter Fest and the tree lighting.” 

Alongside new additions like the choir performances, Valpo Parks upgraded classic staples like the tree and Santa’s sleigh. Additionally, Valpo Parks streamed the State football game so that those who couldn’t make the trip to Indy could still support the Vikings as they played for the championship.

“We have a new bigger, brighter Christmas tree this year, and we have a new Santa sleigh,” said Darr. “We have a new backdrop to try to have nicer pictures for the kids. We've done a big effort to ramp things up this year and have more fun. I'm looking forward to Santa pictures and seeing the kids' excitement.” 

The efforts certainly paid off, as the Valpo football team could likely hear the countdown for the tree lighting in Indianapolis. The park was alive with sound as the tree lit Central Park Plaza, delighting longtime attendees and newcomers alike, such as Jessica Vlasic and her children, Paisley, and Nolan.

“We lived in Valpo years ago, before the little ones were born,” said Vlasic. “They love it here, and they like the events, so we wanted to come up for the tree lighting.”

Marcos Lopez, a longtime Valpo resident, got the opportunity tonight to attend his first Winter Fest. He’s set on making sure he does so again.

“It's nice to see the whole community come out,” said Lopez. “If I can, I’m definitely coming out next year.”

Both Darr and Nuppnau emphasize that events like Winter Fest are only possible because of the willingness of sponsors, staff, and volunteers to commit to creating awesome experiences.

“We have a really great team at the park. Everybody has a strength that they pitch in,” said Darr. “We have a great ice rink staff that helps with the performances. We work closely with city administration as well. That's what's really great about our department – we have a lot of help and a lot of great people to work with.”

To keep track of upcoming Valpo Parks events like the Santa & Sirens Toy Drive, visit their website at