Get the family together this fall and winter and make some memories in Merrillville, taking part in locally sponsored activities that won’t break the bank. The Town of Merrillville is fortunate to be home to 17 parks, a large county library and a community planetarium, and at each of these venues, there is always something going on.

MERRILLVILLE PARKS AND RECREATION The Merrillville Parks and Recreation Department offers adult and youth classes, senior programming, trips and other special events year-round. There are also seasonal activities, including those for fall and winter. For more information, call (219) 980-5911 or visit merrillville.in.gov/departments/parks_and_recreation.

Kool-Aid & Kanvas with Fred Holly Kids can paint a picture with their parent or grandparent. Classically trained artist Fred Holly will be on hand to teach, and supplies are provided. Each month features a different picture.

  • Register at least two weeks in advance. Class maximum: 12 couples
  • Fall and winter dates: Oct.15, Nov.19, Jan. 21, Feb. 18
  • Pruzin Community Center, 5750 Tyler St.
  • $35/resident couple; $40/non-resident couple per session
  • (Children age 8 and above, accompanied by an adult)

Holiday Festival Event Holiday cheer abounds at the annual Cooperative Special Recreation Initiative (CSRI) Holiday Festival. Enjoy dancing, karaoke and treats, make your own ornament and take a photo with Santa!

  • Advance registration through Nov. 30. Register early; space is limited.
  • Dec. 2, 4 to 6pm
  • Pruzin Community Center, 5750 Tyler St.
  • $5/person

Christmas Parade Followed by Tree Lighting Celebration After the CSRI Holiday Festival, take part in the Christmas Parade and “Light Up the Park for the Holidays” Tree Lighting Celebration. The parade travels down 61st Street to Harrison and then north to Pruzin Park for a tree lighting, a party and a visit from Santa.

  • Dec. 2, 6pm
  • Tree lighting and party at Pruzin Community Center, 5750 Tyler St.
  • Donations requested

LAKE COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY, MERRILLVILLE BRANCH The Lake County Public Library at 1919 West 81st Avenue is more than just books; it has a diverse menu of programs and events for families. For more information, call (219) 769-3541 ext. 360 or visit LCPLin.org.

October is Harry Potter Month SarahEllen Hickle, Youth Education Services librarian, says October’s focus is “all things Harry Potter.” On Oct. 13, from 6 to 8 p.m., families can participate in Harry Potter Trivia Night. Call the library to see if spaces are still available.

A Harry Potter Party takes place on Oct. 25 at 4 p.m. and is open to students in kindergarten through 6th grade.

On Oct. 28 at 9:30 a.m., families can binge-watch their favorite wizards at the Harry Potter Movie Marathon, where the first three Harry Potter movies will be shown. “It’s a great way to spend the first day of the Merrillville schools’ fall break,” Hickle says.

Drop Everything and Read Families and young children are encouraged to Drop Everything and Read at the library. On Oct. 13 from 10 a.m. to noon, read by flashlights and glow sticks in the dark. The theme for Oct. 18 is Music and Movement, and Spooky Stories will take place on Oct. 25. On Nov. 1 and 3, the theme is Food.

Halloween at the Library Kids can trick-or-treat at the library between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Oct. 31, and make a Halloween-themed craft (appropriate for school-age children; younger kids can participate with adult assistance).

Children’s Book Week Nov. 6 through 13. There will be a scavenger hunt throughout the week and a bulletin board featuring favorite picture books.

International Games Day in Libraries On Nov. 19, visitors are invited to play a variety of interesting family games.

MERRILLVILLE COMMUNITY PLANETARIUM Not many towns or school districts can boast their own community planetarium. Merrillville is the only school district in Indiana that can make that claim. Located inside Clifford Pierce Middle School at 199 East 70th Place, the planetarium serves local students and hosts visiting schools.

Planetarium director Gregg Williams says that in addition to school field trips, private shows and birthday parties, the planetarium holds four public shows per year. Fall’s show takes place in October, and the winter show is in January. For more information, or to make reservations, visit mcpstars.org or call (219) 650-5486.

‘MoonWitch’ Public Show A family show for all ages, “MoonWitch” depicts a young girl out trick-or-treating with her older brother who tells her about the MoonWitch. “‘MoonWitch’ brings in the study of the moon with Halloween,” Williams explains. The recorded part of the program is 30 minutes and is followed by a live constellation show.

  • Fridays, Oct. 7, 14 and 21; Saturdays, Oct. 15 and 22
  • Doors open at 7pm; show begins at 7:30pm
  • $4/adults, $2/children

‘Wilbear’s Adventure’ Public Show

The planetarium’s winter public family show, “Wilbear’s Adventure,” teaches its audience about the stars.

  • Fridays, Jan. 6, 13 and 20; Saturdays, Jan. 14 and 21
  • Doors open at 7pm; show begins at 7:30pm
  • $4/Adults, $2/Children

‘Let it Snow’ Holiday Show Available as a private show from Nov. 15 through the end of the year, “Let it Snow” features holiday music set to computer-generated images.

Sky Dates The planetarium website lists the stars that can be seen in the sky on a particular day and indicates the occurrence of a full moon, meteor shower or eclipse.

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