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219 Day won't be celebrated with a festival this year but Region Strong merchandise available
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219 Day won't be celebrated with a festival this year but Region Strong merchandise available

For the last few years, Hammond has been celebrating all things Region with an annual 219 Day party at the Hammond Civic Center.

Invented by Twitter humorist Region Rat Rants as a way of poking fun at Northwest Indiana's many quirks and eccentricities, the Region-themed holiday is observed on or around Feb. 19 in a reference to the Region's 219 area code. It's a celebration of eating too much Polish food, getting stuck behind trains, setting off fireworks year-round, working at the mill and everything that makes the Region the Region.

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott's proclamation mentions "navigating around potholes like an expert sailor around icebergs, being used to dirty mountains of snow in parking lots until May, having to fit every Halloween costume you ever wore under a winter coat, shoveling a path to your barbecue grill in the winters, having a favorite gas station and fireworks stand that might be the same place, and having at least one polka played at your wedding." 

But the coronavirus pandemic is keeping people from getting together to listen to cover brands, stuffing their faces with Zel's and White Castle, and scribbling their best material on “You Know You’re From ‘da Region If…” boards.

"In following Governor Holcomb’s Executive Order, Mayor Thomas M. McDermott, Jr. and the 219 Day Committee feel it is not appropriate to hold an in-person event for 219 Day this year at the Hammond Civic Center," Hammond said in a press release.

After a previous day of shoveling snow, the Region faces another heavy snowfall.

While there's no party with local craft breweries and restaurants, Hammond will still continue to sell 219 Day merchandise for those looking to rep their Region roots, including T-shirts and other apparel.

"In keeping with 219 Day tradition, Mayor McDermott is offering apparel to recognize ‘da Region for 2021. This year, we will be offering men’s and women’s T-shirts as usual," Hammond said in a press release. "New this year will be face masks, hoodies and Region Strong vinyl bumper stickers."

See a day in the life of Portage Patrolman Brian Graves in the latest installment of Riding Shotgun with NWI Cops.

Video filmed by Kale Wilk and produced by Scotia White. Interview by Anna Ortiz.

People can buy the items at gohammond.com/shop and either pick them up at the Hammond Civic Center at 5825 Sohl Ave. in Hammond or have them shipped. All shipped orders come with a free bumper sticker.

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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