The inaugural 219 Day, a first-of-its-kind holiday celebrating all things Northwest Indiana, promises to be Region as heck.

The new holiday at the Hammond Civic Center on Feb. 19 (get it, 2-19?) will feature a giant rat piñata, a fire pit, a fireworks show by Krazy Kaplans, standup comedy, music, at least four craft breweries and White Castle sliders. It's so Region that "sleeveless shirts are encouraged."

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. officially declared 219 Day a holiday after it was invented by Twitter humorist Region Rat Rants, who tweets from the handle @RegionRatRants. It was used as an occasion to poke fun at Northwest Indiana, such as by joking that "crowds gather for traditional burning down of health clubs at 2:19 p.m." and encouraging the Gary South Shore Railcats mascot Rusty to threaten to beat up the Colts mascot, just on principle.

"Hear ye. Hear ye.," Hammond officials wrote in a news release. "Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. takes great pleasure in announcing that the City of Hammond shall declare Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 as '219 Day,' the most exalted of all Region Holidays, aside from Black Wednesday."

The event will run from 5 through 10 p.m. at the Hammond Civic Center, 5825 Sohl Ave., and features comedy from the Tomfoolery Fun Club and music by Dick Diamond and the Dusters. Region cuisine will include State Line Pizza, the Cavalier Inn, Zel’s Roast Beef, Sizzebox Food Truck and Chicagoland Popcorn.

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18th Street Brewery, 3 Floyds Brewing, Byway Brewing and Wildrose Brewing will serve craft beer, which will be available for $5.

There will be magic, a bean bag tournament, shuffleboard, a photo booth and a DJ. Expect to see the South Shore Roller Girls and the Tattoo Lady, who will be giving out temporary 219 Day tattoos. McDermott joked on Twitter the giant rat piñata would be filled with "alcohol bottles, packs of cigs, lottery tickets, condoms and gas cards" and that it was a "very 'Region-like' piñata."

He said he plans to dismiss city of Hammond employees early at 2:19 p.m. that Friday to celebrate.

Admission is free, but you must be 21 or older to enter.

Visit 219Day.com for more information and call (219) 853-6378 if you wish to be a sponsor or vendor.


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.