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219 Day party returns to Hammond Saturday

219 Day returns Saturday to the Hammond Civic Center.

The Region-iest party that ever Region-ed in the Region roars back into town like a 1993 Toyota Tercel with an empty bag of Zel's on the passenger seat this Saturday.

219 Day, a Northwest Indiana-themed holiday that's turning into a local tradition as cherished as arguing whether somewhere is really part of the Region, cursing out FIPs or shooting off fireworks for the entire duration of July, will be celebrated from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Hammond Civic Center at 5825 Sohl Ave. in Hammond.

Anyone over the age of 21 is invited to attend "the fun, weird and wacky event that celebrates everything Region." Popular Twitter humorist Region Rat Rants, who lives by the slogan "only if you're from The Region can you poke fun of Northwest Indiana," invented the holiday, which is celebrated on or around Feb. 19 in a reference to the Region's 219 area code.

Three years ago, Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. turned 219 Day from a tweet-fest of Region jokes into a flesh-and-blood, in-real-life party with craft beer, live music and even more Region jokes at the Hammond Civic Center. Thousands have attended 219 Day, it became a trending topic on Twitter and Vice President Mike Pence even recognized it when he was still governor of Indiana.

The event keeps growing. This year, the entertainment includes a DJ, Nomad Planets, The Crawpuppies and Michael Jackson impersonator Rico Hampton.

"This year, the event’s theme is 'Feats of Strength.' There will be a Gladiator Joust, Punching Arcade, Thumb Wrestling, Tattoo Contest, Climbing Wall, Selfie Booth, Region Rat Piñata and more," Hammond said in a news release.

People can make their best Region jokes on “You Know You’re From ‘da Region If…” boards posted all around the Civic Center, sample local craft beer for $5 each or write down observations about what really makes one from the Region after a few craft beers. Local food vendors on hand include Ladies Gourmet Popcorn, Solitas Puerto Rican Food, Jodie’s Italian Ice Factory and Region Rat Rants' favorite, Zel’s Roast Beef.

For more information, call 219-853-6378, email info@219day.com or visit www.219day.com.

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Business Reporter

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.