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219 Day to bring thumb-wrestling, Region Rat Piñata and more

Featured is a scene from a past 219 day.

This year's 219 Day shares something in common with the fellow who invented the holiday Festivus, from the popular 1990s sitcom "Seinfeld."

While there won't be the airing of grievances or any Festivus miracles, the 219 Day celebrating Northwest Indiana's area code and all things Region will have a theme of "Feats of Strength" this year.

"There will be a Gladiator Joust, Punching Arcade, Thumb Wrestling, Tattoo Contest, Climbing Wall, Selfie Booth, Region Rat Piñata and more," stated a news release from the city of Hammond. "Mayor Thomas M. McDermott Jr. and the 219 Day Committee invite all Region residents over 21 years of age to join us for the fun, weird and wacky event that celebrates everything Region, 219 Day."

It's free.

The third annual holiday that pokes fun at Northwest Indiana stereotypes will take place at the Hammond Civic Center from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17. That's on the weekend before its titular date of 2-19, which falls on a weeknight less conducive to a late-night party lubricated with IPAs from local craft breweries like 18th Street and Byway Brewing.

Attendees can listen to Nomad Planets, The Crawpuppies and the DJ Well, Turn it Up! Entertainment, and see Michael Jackson impersonator Rico Hampton moonwalk across the stage. They also can buy commemorative T-shirts, various Region craft beers for just $5 each, and food from local vendors like Ladies Gourmet Popcorn, Solitas Puerto Rican Food, Jodie’s Italian Ice Factory and of course Zel’s Roast Beef, the favorite of 219 Day founder Region Rat Rants, a popular Northwest Indiana humor Twitter account with more than 7,300 followers.

"When you get there, be sure to sign our 'You Know You’re From ‘da Region If ...' board posted all around the Civic Center," the news release stated. "For those who need a ride, a free shuttle bus, compliments of Frank J. Mrvan, North Township trustee, will be traveling back and forth to the Hammond South Shore Line train station. Visit for the current train schedule."

For more information, call 219-853-6378 or visit


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.