'Feud' to help fund Valplayso revitalization

2013-08-17T21:15:00Z 2013-08-17T22:53:04Z 'Feud' to help fund Valplayso revitalizationSusan O'Leary Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
August 17, 2013 9:15 pm  • 

VALPRAISO | The Not So Civil Servants duked it out with Big Bad Business in a friendly game of “Valparaiso Feud” at Party in the Park Saturday evening at Valplayso Park.

The goal of the second annual event was to raise seed money for the estimated $500,000 to $900,000 needed to “revitalize” the popular city playground, which will turn 20 years old in October 2014, said Barbie Johnson, of the Valparaiso parks Party in the Park committee.

John Siebert, parks director, said the department hoped to raise $50,000 at the end of summer soiree, at which diners feasted on Bon Femme’s beef tenderloin sandwiches, meatballs, chicken kabobs and shrimp cocktail and wood-fired pizza from Around the Fire.

The highlight of the evening was the "Family Feud"-style game, which pitted local business leaders against Valparaiso and Porter County officials. The game, complete with bell, blip and clang sound effects and an elaborate computer-generated game board, challenged players with trivia questions about famous people from Valparaiso and the names of former Valparaiso restaurants and grocery stores.

Players came dressed as special characters, including Bill “Tax Bill” Oeding, Debbie “Miss Print” Anselm and Stu “Stu Dent” Summers, of Excel Driving School.

Summers said the parks have always been dear to his family.

“My three kids put their handprints on the wall over there,” said Summers, pointing to Valplayso. “We want to keep the parks growing and healthy. The whole idea of renewing this playground is very attractive to us.”

Lois Smith said she also raised her children in Valparaiso and has “always been interested in the parks.”

“They are a great asset to Valparaiso,” said Smith. “We need to promote them more.”

More than 250 people attended.

Johnson said last year the event raised $26,000 for new shelters at Butterfly Meadows after the 22-year-old parks foundation created a strategic plan and “retooled” itself.

“We were ready to ramp it up,” said Johnson. “Resource development became one committee specifically to raise fund because we have fewer resources to do more things.”

Monica Flanagin-Decker, a Valparaiso Parks Foundation board member,  said she is “in awe” of the foundation and the parks staff.

“Their only goal is to make this town better,” said Flanagin-Decker. “I love it ... I love everything about it.”

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