It was badge versus badge on Saturday evening as Valpo’s Police and Fire Departments took the field for Valpo Park Foundation’s Party in the Park fundraiser and kickball tournament.
Party in the Park is always one of the Valpo Park Foundation’s biggest celebrations. Each bash features a different theme, this year’s being Battle of the Badges. Different teams duked it out in a big kickball tournament throughout the day and snacked on concessions, browsed a beer garden, and enjoyed tunes from a DJ. Later on, Valpo’s Police and Fire Departments battled in the featured match of the night, with each team led by their respective chiefs.
“The Police and Fire Departments have a really good relationship, so we thought this would be a great fellowship event for us,” said Chad Dutz, Valparaiso Fire Chief. “It’s all about community. That’s the thing about police, fire, Valpo Parks, public works, and everything like that, we’re all just one big group trying to make the city go. Our parks are one of the places that people can go to spend time together, so it’s really important for our community.”
Rainy weather added an unexpected wildcard to the festivities, leading to an early game rain delay while the police were in the lead. Players and spectators retreated to the Foundation Club tent where they enjoyed premium food, drinks, and live music. Police Chief Jeffrey Balon however, was not content to leave the game half finished.
“I’d like to note that the Police Department was up by three, while the fire department hadn’t even scored a run yet,” Balon joked. “Myself and Chief Dutz have a bet where the loser has to wear the other team’s t-shirt for an entire day, and I don’t want to do that!”
Despite the competitive spirit between the two squads, Balon was proud to see them come together to support Valpo Parks.
“The City of Valparaiso and the Parks Department have done such a great job,” he said. “I’ve been around in the police department since 1992, and in those years I’ve seen the transformation that Mayor Costas and John Seibert [Executive Director of Valpo Parks] have brought to the Parks Department and all the wonderful places that our citizens have to go and enjoy life.”
The weather broke enough for the game to resume, and the cloudy skies and flashes of lightning in the distance did little to stop the crowd from cheering on their local heroes as they blitzed through the final innings. Ultimately, Chief Balon and his squad came out on top in the match, but the real winner of the day was Valpo Parks.
“This community is extraordinary in both its support in public policy, but also it’s support from the private sector and volunteers in supporting not just the parks, but all kinds of organizations,” said John Seibert. “We wouldn’t be able to do all of the things we do without the support of the private sector and volunteerism. Valpo is just such a vibrant place and we’re thankful for all the people that are here.”
To learn more about Valpo Parks and their programs, visit www.valpoparks.org.