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'61: An Exhibit Celebrating the 61st National Park' comes to the Indiana Welcome Center

The Indiana Welcome Center will host the "61: An Exhibit Celebrating the 61st National Park," which opens Friday.

Northwest Indiana is now home to the nation's 61st National Park after the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was rebranded as the Indiana Dunes National Park, which will be celebrated in a new exhibit at the Indiana Welcome Center that opens Friday.

"61: An Exhibit Celebrating the 61st National Park" will be displayed from May 23 through September 21 at the W.F. Wellman Exhibit Hall at the Indiana Welcome Center at 7770 Corinne Drive in Hammond.

"The 6,500-square-foot exhibit hall will be transformed to represent the 15,000 acres of diverse landscapes and highlight activities available to those that visit the park system," the South Shore Convention and Vistors Authority said in a press release.

"The exhibit will feature 12 trail stops: Miller Woods and the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education, Hobart Prairie Grove and Little Calumet River, West Beach, Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk, Cowles Bog, Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm, Glenwood Dunes Trail, Century of Progress Homes, Indiana Dunes State Park, Dunewood Campground, Mount Baldy and Pinhook Bog."

The free exhibit will include interactive exhibits, a sandbox for building sandcastles, selfie stations and a chance for kids to become a Junior Ranger. People can learn about camping, hiking, kayaking, cross-country skiing and other recreational opportunities at the Indiana Dunes, as well as the 1,100 native plant species and rare and migrating birds there.

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“We are excited to work with park partners like the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority to spread the word on the Indiana Dunes National Park," Park Superintendent Paul Labovitz said. "This exhibit gives both residents and first-time visitors a glimpse of what makes Indiana Dunes such a special place.”

An opening reception will take place from 5-7 p.m. on June 6.

The Indiana Welcome Center is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. after Labor Day.

The exhibit will include Ranger programs, a schedule for which will be posted online at www.alongthesouthshore.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.