LIBERTY TOWNSHIP | The winter holidays kicked off early at Sunset Hill Farm on Saturday for the Porter County Parks annual Winter Lights Festival and although there was no snow, there was plenty of rain.
The sprinkles dampened the crowds a little, sending them into the activity tent for shelter as some of the evening plans were altered due to the weather.
“Our fireworks technician made the decision to move the fireworks presentation up to 5:20 p.m. instead of the scheduled 7:30 p.m. because he said that his stuff would have been ruined in the rain, so we figured it would be better to have fireworks early than not at all,” said Geri Rose, director of marketing and communications for Porter County Parks.
Traffic was lined up along Meridian Road to get into the festival as volunteers and police officers worked to help manage the flow of cars.
“We typically get about 3,000 people to this festival every year, but who knows how the weather will affect it this year,” Rose said.
She said more than 100 volunteers help to put on the event, which featured tractor rides, visits with Santa, games, face painting and vendors in addition to the lights displays and fireworks.
One of those vendors, Kim White, of Kernals & Kones in Valparaiso, said it was her third year at the event and she hadn’t noticed any decline in attendance.
“We’re selling flavored popcorn, gourmet caramel apples, chocolates, and cotton candy has been a big hit. It’s been gangbusters all day, probably because I’m in the same tent as Santa. Every year this event just gets bigger,” she said.
For 5-year-old Charles Schlesinger, of Valparaiso, getting a "Despicable Me" minion with a Santa hat painted on his face was a highlight of the day, as was another feature.
“The fireworks,” he said.
Charlie Samocki, 9, of Chesterton, said he enjoyed the many light displays that he strolled through while listening to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” play over the loud speakers.
“My favorite is the one of the three opossums hanging from a branch. It was also my favorite last year,” he said.