HAMMOND | Amid the high temperatures, Festival of the Lakes kicked off its first day of the five-day event at the Wolf Lake Memorial Park.
"It seems to be always an issue," Michelle Turchany, special events coordinator for Hammond, said of the soupy weather. "It never fails — when festival time comes around, so does the heat."
Pat Moore, administrator for Hammond's Parks and Recreation Department, said the past three years have been hot like this year during the festival, which runs through Sunday and is in its 10th year. Moore said the fact that the festival begins most days at 5 p.m. helps the event escape the heat.
"We don't worry about things we can't control, and we can't control the weather," Moore said. "But we can be prepared."
There are four air-conditioned trailers acting as cooling stations. A first aid station also is present, and festival staff are stationed throughout the grounds to watch for emergencies. There is also a misting tent between the carnival and stage area.
"You'll be surprised at the end of the day how many people are running through that tent ... it feels really nice in the heat," Moore said.
Robert Briggs, owner of Modern Midway, the carnival portion of the fest, said the high temperatures don't affect the ride operations, but it can hurt carnival attendance during daytime.
"The lake has a good breeze coming off of it, so that definitely helps," Briggs said.
Crystal Rosales, of Chicago, got the festival megapasses for her family. She has three children, ages 10 months, 7 and 8, and is cautious with the heat. The megapass is for the entire festival, and Rosales was a little worried the high temperatures would affect how many times the family will use its megapasses.
Rosales makes sure her children drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks from the festivities.
"They don't like that part, but it's for their health," Rosales said. "They think they can go for days, but you have to make them take a break or they'll keep going until they pass out."
Concertgoers also are being prepared by bringing coolers full of water and dressing light, such as Brookie McNeal, of Chicago. McNeal was seated by 5 p.m. to see Smokey Robinson perform later Wednesday night.
"I make sure I'm prepared and stay hydrated," McNeal said.
The Weather Channel said there is a heat advisory for Hammond from 11 a.m. Thursday until 7 p.m. Friday.