Parks News Feed - ValpoLife Wed, 27 May 2020 00:26:22 +0000 en hourly 1 Rogers Lakewood Opening Day – May 24th Tue, 19 May 2020 15:46:45 +0000 Valpo Parks Whether your passion is hiking, biking, fishing, boating, picnicking, or simply catching a few rays in the sunshine, Rogers-Lakewood provides something for every member of the family. Available activities and facilities include: Disc Golf Course, Discovery Day Camp, Hayrides, Lakewood Link Lakewood Park Store, rentals for Rowboats, Paddle Boats, and Fishing Poles. 

Rogers Lakewood Opening Day – May 24th
Valpo Parks updates community on summer sports camps Tue, 19 May 2020 14:47:00 +0000 Valpo Parks Here’s a quick look at what’s coming up at Valpo Parks!

Summer Baseball Leagues
Ages 7-12 | June 14 – September 30

PLAY BALL! ⚾️ Valpo Parks is excited to announce the combining of our Summer and Fall Rookie, Minors and Majors Leagues into one large season of 15-18 games. Practices will start the week of June 14th and games to begin the week of July 6th. Register here.

14U Girls Fastpitch Softball
Ages 13-14 | June 14 – August 8

Girls Fastpitch Softball is ON! 🥎 Coaches and teams will be assigned in the next coming weeks and we will begin practices the week of June 14th. Our games will be played against Wheeler, South Central, Kouts, Liberty and other Valpo teams. Register here.

Summer Soccer Camps
Ages 5-14 | June 15 – June 19 & June 22 – June 26

Having made the decision to cancel the Valpo Parks Spring Soccer League, we wanted to give our young athletes an alternative to still enjoy the sport with friends. Our 5 day camps will be taught by the Valparaiso High School Varsity Teams and each camper will receive a shirt and soccer ball to use for their daily drills. Register here.

Coed Adult Soccer
Ages 18+ | Starts the week June 14th

The league offers 12 games (6 per half) along with a postseason double elimination tourney. Up to three divisions are offered: competitive, mid-recreational, and recreational. Rosters are required with $100 deposit. Teams are required to have a minimum of three women on their rosters. Register here.

Adult Softball
Ages 18+ | Starts the week June 14th

No handshakes, no high fives but we promise ya a great adult softball season! 🥎 For those of you who are just itching to get outside our summer league will officially start the week of June 14th. Register here.

Discovery Day Camp
Ages 5-14 | July 6th – August 6th

This is a summer camp where your child will have the MOST fun this summer! Each week features a highlighted activity along with enrichment programs. Campers will also get back to nature with fun-filled activities such as fishing, boating, and hiking. Register here.

Valpo Parks updates community on summer sports camps
A quick look at what’s coming up at Valpo Parks Tue, 12 May 2020 15:10:19 +0000 Valpo Parks ValPAWraiso Dog Park Memberships – Opening May 20th

Welcome to Valpo Park’s newest addition, ValPAWraiso Dog Park! This dog park spans over 2 acres while featuring a large dog area and a separate small dog area, pavilions in each area, concrete pathways into each area and a plaza complete with PAW print bricks and archway.

For more information, click here.

Rogers Lakewood Season Passes – Memorial Day through Labor Day

Opening day is May 24th! Whether your passion is hiking, biking, fishing, boating, picnicking, or simply catching a few rays in the sunshine, Rogers-Lakewood provides something for every member of the family. Available activities and facilities include: Disc Golf Course, Discovery Day Camp, Hayrides, Lakewood Link Lakewood Park Store, rentals for Rowboats, Paddle Boats, and Fishing Poles. 

For more information, click here.

Shelters & Field RentalsNow Taking Reservations

Valpo Parks is accepting picnic shelter reservations for dates after May 23. These open-air shelters can be reserved for family gatherings, birthday parties or company picnics of less than 100 people.

For more information, click here.

Community Garden – Opens May 16th

Located at beautiful Foundation Meadows Park, 3210 N Campbell St, residents may reserve a 10 x 10 plot to grow vegetables or flowers from May – November for $45 per plot. Space is limited!

For more information, click here.

Summer Soccer Camps Ages 5-14 | June 15 – June 19 & June 22 – June 26

Having made the decision to cancel the Valpo Parks Spring Soccer League, we wanted to give our young athletes an alternative to still enjoy the sport with friends. Our 5 day camps will be taught by the Valparaiso High School Varsity Teams and each camper will receive a shirt and soccer ball to use for their daily drills.

For more information, click here.

A quick look at what’s coming up at Valpo Parks
Meadowbrook hike Valparaiso Spring 2020 Mon, 04 May 2020 12:39:18 +0000 Stacey Kellogg Meadowbrook hike Valparaiso Spring 2020 Valpo Parks offers sports equipment rentals to keep kids active at home Mon, 13 Apr 2020 16:55:25 +0000 Curtis Hankins Valpo Parks has made it possible for families to turn their back yards into makeshift sports fields while the community continues to navigate the effects of the pandemic that has forced the closure of courts, fields, and playgrounds, and called for canceled or rescheduled programming.

“The last two weeks, we were kind of on the defense and making sure everyone knew what was open or closed, and what they can or can’t do right now,” said Kevin Nuppnau, Business Operations Director for Valpo Parks. “We’re finally on the offense now. We’re using social media and other tools to encourage people to go outside while doing so safely.”

The parks and pathways remain open, and families can still enjoy taking a walk, run, or bike ride down their favorite routes provided they follow safe social distancing measures – staying six feet apart from others whenever possible.

“We want to get people out there to exercise,” Nuppnau said. “Part of that is with the paths and walkways, but we’re also starting to look at different sports-specific programs.”

With their recreation and youth leagues suspended, Valpo Parks realized that they had a room full of sports equipment gathering dust. They came up with a creative solution to clear out their storage and get kids playing again.

“We’re renting out our equipment for kids and families who don’t have any of their own,” Nuppnau said. “Instead of having to find a way to buy a basketball or soccer ball for their kid, parents can just rent one from us.”

All of the information is available in detail at, but the main idea is that parents or guardians can visit that link to rent equipment for five dollars. Then they can visit Valpo Park’s RecShed on 1158 Harrison Blvd. every Thursday for curbside-pickup of all their rented items.

“We wanted to open up our equipment so kids can stay active and healthy,” Nuppnau said. “We’re calling it the Backyard Sports Bag Program because it lets them build their own sports bag that they can use all they want for the next four weeks.”

Items range from balls to T-ball equipment, to lacrosse sticks.

The social media team at Valpo Parks is posting videos on Facebook featuring different sport skills and drills that kids can practice in their driveways, garages, or backyards.

“For example, we just posted a soccer juggling drill,” Nuppnau said. “It features a couple of different progressions on how to juggle, and then a contest to see how many times they could juggle the ball without it hitting the ground.”

Valpo Park’s efforts are helping to provide kids a little bit of normalcy in an unprecedented time.

“We feel bad that these kids are having their extracurricular activities and playgrounds taken away from them,” Nuppnau said. “On the other hand, that left us with all these unused resources. What better way is there to encourage kids to get outside than by getting them the equipment they need to have fun and stay active?”

Visit to learn more about the Backyard Sports Bag Program and to find more information about Valpo Parks’ response to COVID-19.

Valpo Parks offers sports equipment rentals to keep kids active at home
Peaceable Primate Sanctuary provides retirement home for primates leaving research labs Mon, 06 Apr 2020 15:37:15 +0000 Julia Demma So, you’ve seen and heard about friendly reserves for wildlife to roam in wide-open spaces while being fed, cared for, and socialized, but did you know one of these safe havens is located right here in Indiana?

Located at the end of a dirt road surrounded by endless flocks of trees in Winamac, Ind., the Peaceable Primate Sanctuary provides an enriching and stimulating permanent home for primates retired from research and rescued from the pet and entertainment industries. The facility is the only one of its kind to reside in North America.

Scott Kubisch, Founder/ Director of Peaceable Primate Sanctuary, had envisioned opening the non-profit organization since he was a boy, daydreaming about ways he could do his part and stay true to his passion for wildlife.

Kubisch’s great grandparents had a farm by English Lake near North Judson, which later got passed onto his grandparents.

“I never actually lived there, but my family would come out and visit on weekends and holidays, and once I started looking for properties for the sanctuary, I was familiar with this area and decided to run with it,” Kubisch said.

The sanctuary received its first primate in 2016, but Kubisch and other supporters had been working on getting the facility running for about 15 years. Now, the sanctuary stretches across a whopping 78 acres, allowing 33 primates – and 11 more coming within the next two months – to move as freely as they choose.

Peaceable Primate Sanctuary

Peaceable Primate Sanctuary 12 Photos
Peaceable Primate SanctuaryPeaceable Primate SanctuaryPeaceable Primate SanctuaryPeaceable Primate Sanctuary

“I’ve always been very earth-friendly, worried about the environment and caring for animals. As a child, I would always bring home stray dogs, sick possums, baby birds, and other things,” Kubisch said. “I knew I always wanted to work at a zoo when I got older.”

Kubisch’s first animal-related job was at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois where he stayed for about six years. He then moved to Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago for 21 years. Kubisch worked with baboons at both facilities. “When I worked at the zoo, I enjoyed it, but I always wanted to do more and make a difference. Being able to open a sanctuary and provide retirement to lab primates has really allowed me to fulfill my lifelong dream,” Kubisch said.

The sanctuary does not take a stand for or against the act of using chimps for research in a lab setting. Rather, they work hard to provide primates with a place for retirement once they are out of research.

“We understand the need for research but are true believers that all these animals deserve a place to retire,” Kubisch said. “We work closely with Princeton and Yale University and have implemented a retirement program for both in which they can send their primates to the sanctuary once their research studies are done.”

Princeton, along with Yale University, decided to partner with the sanctuary to ensure both schools can seamlessly retire more primates there in the future. It’s a sign of increasing interest in sending former research primates to sanctuaries instead of euthanizing them or transferring them to another project.

According to Science Magazine, a growing number of scientists say retirement is the right thing to do for these social, intelligent creatures.

“We want to do right by these animals,” said Peter Smith, associate director of Yale’s Animal Resources Center. “It’s good for them, and it’s good for the people who have spent their time caring for them.”

There is no specific age that the primates enter retirement, but there is, however, a wide array of new experiences, friends, food, and nourishment still to be had during the remainder of their lifetimes. In fact, Kubisch’s favorite aspect of his job at the sanctuary is watching the new retirees experience new things.

“Many of these primates have never seen the outdoors. They have spent most of their lives in cages within laboratories, so when they get here, it’s really sort of a shock to them,” Kubisch said. “They experience rain, sun, the wind blowing, birds flying and chirping overhead – it’s all very new to them. I’ve been able to experience every primate’s initial introduction to the sanctuary, and it has been such a joy to witness.”

One specific memory Kubisch will never forget is when Jerry, one of the sanctuary’s first retirees, was introduced to his new living space.

“Jerry was extremely hesitant to come outside at the beginning of his stay. It took him some time, maybe a few hours even, before he ventured outside. He was very tentative, placing maybe one hand and foot out at a time and poking and touching the dirt before retreating to where he started. But when he did come outside and began to adjust, it was such a nice moment to witness.”

The primates at the sanctuary spend their days doing a multitude of activities while being cared for by staff members and volunteers.

“Think of it as a retirement home similar to the places humans experience,” Kubisch said. “You relax, catch up with your friends, lounge around a bit, lay in the sun, entertain yourself, play with others, amongst other things. They can just simply be primates.

Most of all, Kubisch is proud to see the impact the sanctuary has made thus far and its potential to continue to do so for years to come.

 “We’ve built a sanctuary here that is going to last for as long as it’s needed,” Kubisch said. “As I get older, I find comfort knowing that the sanctuary is set up to keep running long after my lifetime, and I’m very proud of this.”

In order to keep the primates’ top-rated retirement home operating, the sanctuary relies on private individual donations, and funds from estate plans, foundations, fundraisers, and partner universities. Each year, the sanctuary opens to the public for its annual Baboon Fest fundraiser in October and Fiesta de Monos in the Springtime. For updates and more information about these events, visit the sanctuary’s Facebook page. To make a donation, click here.

Volunteer opportunities are available at the Peaceable Primate Sanctuary. Interested volunteers are encouraged to check up regularly on the sanctuary’s Facebook page for updates about orientation in the future.

There are also private tours available for small groups who are members at the sanctuary. Those interested are encouraged to call the sanctuary at (574) 896-0590 or visit for more information.  

Peaceable Primate Sanctuary provides retirement home for primates leaving research labs
Peaceable Primate Sanctuary Mon, 06 Apr 2020 15:32:15 +0000 Pulaski County Community Development Commission Peaceable Primate Sanctuary Valpo Parks maintenance and groundskeeping teams take pride in parks and community Sun, 22 Mar 2020 18:58:13 +0000 Kayla Belec Editor’s note: As we read this article, we’re reminiscing about summers past and looking forward to gathering again for all of Valpo Parks’ events and programs once social distancing is over. GreatNews.Life extends a huge thanks to all the Valpo Parks staff for keeping our parks ready for fun, family, and friendship!

There are two major components that define the Valparaiso community: the appreciation community members take in their parks, and the pride the Valparaiso Parks Department has for cultivating those parks.

One of the greatest sources of pride comes from the maintenance and groundskeeper teams who serve as a direct connection between the public and the parks. An incredible amount of work goes into making the Valpo Parks fit for theircommunity.

Beyond the everyday maintenance that is required to keep the parks clean, there’s the group effort that comes with ensuring events like markets, movie nights, and larger-scale festivals like the Popcorn Festival go off without a hitch in Central Park Plaza. Mother nature keeps everyone vigilant with the constant change of weather. When it rains on the park fields, for example, the horticulture division must respondto the muddy mess straightaway before youth storm the fields. And, speaking of the horticulture division, there’s the careful planning and laying of plant materials that are as pleasing to the eye as they are environmentally responsible.

Team members like Dan Johnson, Maintenance Director for Valpo Parks, Steve Garland, Central Park Plaza Lead Groundskeeper, and maintenance leaders Jason Phillips, Scott Furto, and Rich White work together to ensure the parks are safe, reliable, and fun for Valpo citizens.

Johnson, who has served the Valpo Parks Department for 40 years, has watched the city and its parks evolve.

“I was born and raised in Valparaiso, and I’ve been in these parks since I was a child,” Johnson said. “I really like working with the public, seeing people enjoy the parks we make special for them.”

Each team member shares a love for working outdoors, a trait that drew them to their roles.

“I enjoy working outdoors, and getting the chance to do something different every day,” said Garland, a Valpo Parks employee for 12 years. “Especially since Central Park Plaza opened, we’re definitely not bored with the work we do.”

Having worked for the Parks Department for nearly five years, Phillips said he also enjoys the variety that comes with his role.

“I grew up in Portage and have lived in Valpo since ‘98,” Phillips said. “I like Valpo a lot, and I like being a part of it.” 

Furto, who has worked with Valpo Parks for more than four years, said that people in Valparaiso motivate him and the entire maintenance team to deliver.

“I’m moved by the excitement people have for the things we do for our parks,” Furto said. “All of us like what we do. We wouldn’t do it otherwise. But the people really appreciate the effort that we put into what we do, and I think we’re all committed to giving them a continually good product.” 

White, who has headed-up maintenance at Rogers-Lakewood Park for three years, said that he derives a sense of personal pride and ownership from the feedback hereceives.

“It’s rewarding to put my signature on the park, to be able to put my own stamp on it and know that people are benefiting from something I’ve worked on,” White said.

One of the biggest improvements the more seasoned veterans have seen over the years has been the construction and successful implementation of Central Park Plaza. With its many events, the inclusion of winter-themed fun at William E. Urschel Pavilion, and year-round gathering possibilities, Central Park Plaza has kept Valpo Parks on the leading edge of community spaces.

“You wouldn’t believe how many municipalities came through, from neighboring cities and even other states, asking for guidance on that park, wanting ideas for how to build one in their own community,” Furto said. “That’s a pretty good feeling.”

“Central Park Plaza represented a huge improvement and investment to our city,” Garland said. “We kind of take the Disneyland perspective with it—whether it’s your hundredth time there or your first, it looks and feels exactly the same, familiar. But it’s always changing, the variety of events keeps it fresh. There’s really something for everyone there.”

“I’ve seen the change in the parks, and when you look back to what we had when I started here versus now, it is very rewarding,” Johnson said.

And the community feels it, too.

“When you’ve got a 2-year-old or a 3-year-old that comes up to you and says thank you, that’s what hits you,” Furto said. “No one tells a 2- or 3-year old to say that, they just say it because they want to. That’s heartwarming. That’s gratifying.”

“I don’t know if you get that in most jobs,” Garland agreed.

The appreciation makes huge gatherings like the annual Popcorn Festival worth it.

“Everyone here is a part of it, both the set-up and clean-up,” Johnson said. “When you see Central Park itself, how crazy it looks right after the festival, and then you compare it to how it looks after you’re finished tearing it all down, it’s a good feeling knowing you’ve worked together on it.”

The Valpo Parks Department is excited to next complete ValPAWraiso Dog Park. So far, Johnson and the team have helped oversee the laying of concrete paths, turf, and the hanging of signs. They’re particularly excited (or perhaps this writer isparticularly excited) about the decorational fire hydrants the Valparaiso Fire Department donated. The dog park is projected to have its grand opening sometime this summer. With everything going on in the world, the warm days when the Parks Department’s busiest season heats-up cannot come soon enough.

“We will all get through this and be out in the parks as a community soon!” Furto said. 

“People really support these parks, and they take pride in them when they’re kept up,” White said. “I’m sure a lot of other cities take just as much pride in their parks, but we always want it to show, and I think it really does.”

“The community embraces the parks, they’re proud of the parks, they appreciate the parks and the work we do,” Garland said. “That’s part of what makes Valpo special.”

For more information on Valpo Parks, visit

Valpo Parks maintenance and groundskeeping teams take pride in parks and community
Valpo Parks youth dance class Tue, 04 Feb 2020 01:58:19 +0000 Valpo Parks Students will experience one hour of dance each session in the areas of ballet and jazz.

Program Details

  • Age: 6 – 10
  • Location: Mirror Image Dance Academy, 3207 Cascade Dr, #G, Valparaiso
  • Fee: $75 
Valpo Parks youth dance class
Valpo Parks Young Rembrandts Tue, 04 Feb 2020 01:56:08 +0000 Valpo Parks Inspire your child to become a budding artist. This class is a dynamic way for your child to develop their own creativity. Child will increase art abilities, and learning skills, as well as boost self-confidence and self-esteem. 

Program Details

  • Age: 5 – 12
  • Location: Banta Center, 605 Beech St, Valparaiso
  • Fee: $60 resident/ $72 non-resident
Valpo Parks Young Rembrandts