WHITING | Whiting is making big plans for its 125th anniversary this year and they may include a touch of Disney.
Mayor Joe Stahura outlined the plans at a public forum and said the city has always used the 125th anniversary of the construction of the Whiting refinery as the city's anniversary date.
He said anniversary events will mostly take place in July.
"The whole month of July, we're going to try to increase or improve the events that we have," Stahura said.
There will be an expanded fireworks show over the lake on July 3 and a bigger July 4 parade with special guests.
"Believe it or not, we have been lucky enough to be granted the appearance of Mickey and Minnie Mouse," Stahura said. "They don't go anywhere unless it's a huge parade."
Stahura said city staff sent what he described as a creative letter of request to Disney and a couple weeks later heard back from a representative who said most requests are initially denied, but Whiting's had drawn interest.
"About a month later, they agreed to come participate," Stahura said. "They are also going to advertise the Fourth of July parade on Radio Disney in Chicago for two months before."
Stahura said it is likely TV characters including Bob the Builder, Angelina Ballerina, Barney and Curious George will also appear at the parade.
An invitation has been sent to colleges in Northwest Indiana and some in the Chicago area, as well as sports teams and corporations, with a request they enter their mascots into the parade.
"So the parade will have a cartoon character and mascot theme," Stahura said.
Cartoon lovers might also take special interest in the city's Cruise Night to be held July 16 on 119th St.
"We've taken a little extra step in making that special," Stahura said.
He said full-sized models of the popular Pixar cars Mater and Lightning McQueen will be the celebrities at that event.
"The original Batmobile will be there also," Stahura said.
The city's Summer with the Symphony performance on July 19 in Whiting Lakefront Park might also contain a Disney flavor.
"We're very close to signing a deal to have a special Disney production," Stahura said.
He said such a production would include Disney performers and the theme of the symphony's performance would be music from Disney movies.
On July 26 the city will sponsor a fireworks show on what will be Saturday night of the city's famous Pierogi Fest.
Stahura said the launching site for the fireworks has not yet been determined, but it is more than likely anyone on 119th Street will be able to see the show.
A permanent archway that will stretch across the street at 119th Street and Indianapolis Boulevard is also expected to be unveiled at some point during the busy month of July.
"The whole idea is to say, 'We want you to come down to the business district,'" Stahura said. "We want you to come support our businesses."
A lakefront open house is scheduled for Aug. 13.
"We're planning an event for most of the day, and that will include a bunch of family activities," Stahura said.
He said the open house will serve as a grand opening of the Whiting Lakefront Park.
"It will be open most of the year, but there's going to be so much construction still up until July that we wanted to wait until that construction was over before we actually held a formal event," Stahura said.