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Thomas Nast Santa Claus

A photo of a Thomas Nast Santa Claus drawing from the late 1800s.

The Candy Cane Express

HESSTON — The Hesston Steam Museum will offer the Candy Cane Express Dec. 8 and 9. For a free train ride, give a new unwrapped toy to the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots. The museum is east of Ind. 39 on LaPorte County Road 1000 North. Visit for details.

Santa and trains

NORTH JUDSON — In past years, the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum's December trains have stopped and picked up Santa when he was stranded along the tracks on the outskirts of North Judson after his reindeer ran off with his sleigh. Come out on the first three Saturdays in December to see if this rare occurrence will happen again in 2018. Passengers ride in a vintage commuter coach through the countryside for about five miles from North Judson to the small town of English Lake. After crossing the Kankakee River, the train returns to the depot. During the trip, Santa sits down with passengers, and each youth and child will receive a small gift bag with an ornament, toys and sweets from Santa. Trains depart at 10 a.m., 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 8 and 15. Ticket prices begin at $9 and are pro-rated, depending upon age. Purchasing tickets online is recommended:

Christmas light show

WHEATFIELD — First Church's Christmas light display runs through Jan. 6 at 5387 W. Ind. 10; tune your car radio to 87.9 FM, drive into the north parking lot between 5 and 10 a.m. and enjoy 30 minutes of Christmas music coordinated with lights.

Weekends with Santa at Gabis Arboretum at Purdue Northwest

VALPARAISO — Bring the whole family to Gabis Arboretum at Purdue Northwest to celebrate the holidays. Santa Claus is heading down from the North Pole to visit children, young and old, in the vintage Railway Depot. Bring your camera and snap a photograph with jolly old St. Nick from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 8, 9, 15 and 16. Advance tickets are not required. All winter long, admission pricing is $5 per carload.

Christmas Around the World at the East Chicago Public Library

EAST CHICAGO — The public is invited to join in lighting up the holiday season at 5 p.m. Dec. 6 at the East Chicago Public Library, 2401 E. Columbus Dr. A Christmas tree lighting ceremony is scheduled at the main library, which will showcase trees representing some of the ethnic groups that make up the city’s population. The popular exhibit will offer visitors a view of holiday celebrations from other countries as well as the United States. This year’s theme is “Christmas around the World.” The program will also include a special dedication of the patriotic tree by American Legion Post 508, a free gift and photo with Santa for children and families, storytelling by local author Jim Dworkin, guest entertainment and much more. The public is invited to view the free exhibit during regular library hours through Jan. 6.

Christmas Behind the Scenes Tour

MICHIGAN CITY — Venture behind the scenes at the 35,000 square-foot Barker Mansion and explore all 38 rooms during this immersive tour. Hours are 7 p.m. Dec. 7, 14 and 21 at 631 Washington St. The interpreter-led tour will feature the mansion’s “Christmas Room,” which serves as their storehouse for the thousands of ornaments that go into decorating the 160-year-old mansion. The tour lasts two hours. Cost is $15 per adult or $10 per senior or youth, ages 15 and under. Registration is required via Eventbrite or by calling the mansion at (219) 873-1520, ext. 5.

16th annual Christmas Pastry Fest

MERRILLVILLE — St. Helen's Philoptochos Ladies Society 16th annual Christmas Pastry Fest will feature Greek pastries and favorite specialty foods including baklava, nut rolls, cookies, strudels, spanakopita, pastitsio and more. The two-day event is 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 8 and 11 a.m. to noon Dec. 9 at Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek orthodox Cathedral, 8000 Madison St.

Glowing Lights Night

MICHIGAN CITY — Barker Mansion will host its Glowing Lights Nights at 631 Washington St. The public can take a self-guided tour of all three floors of the historic home, which ahs been decorated for the holiday season by local nonprofit groups. Hours are 4 to 6 p.m. Dec. 8, 15, 22 and 29. Cost is $8 per adult and $5 per youth or senior. Visit for details.

Holiday traditions

PORTER — Join staff and volunteers at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to celebrate “Holiday Traditions in the Dunes.” Programs will take place from 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 8 at the Dunes Learning Center and from noon to 3 p.m. at Chellberg Farm. A traditional Swedish Christmas will be presented at the park's Chellberg Farm. In the farmhouse, volunteers in traditional dress will explain the Swedish holiday customs as well as decorations on display and present Santa Lucia and her story while Jul Tomte (Santa) listens to children's wishes in the parlor. Call 219-395-1882.

French Christmas concert

Celebrate the holiday season with a French Christmas Concert at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 9. Local folk trio, Trois Canards, made up of Marti Pizzni, Suzanne Keldsen, and Dot Pakin, will sing traditional French Christmas songs. The songs, sung in both French and English, are accompanied by traditional instruments like the fiddle, hurdy gurdy, dulcimer, accordion, guitar, and recorder. The Indiana Dunes Visitor Center is located at 1215 N. Ind. 49. Call 219-395-1882.

Toys for Tots Drive

LOWELL — Core Medical Centers is collecting Toys for Tots until Dec. 15. Each person that comes in is able to pop a balloon on the tree for a chance to win a prize. The center is at 2072 E Commercial Ave., Suite B.

Pack to give back

MERRILLVILLE — Food Bank of Northwest Indiana will host a pack to give back event from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 12 at 6490 Broadway. Participants will pack meal bags to be distributed over the holidays to area children who qualify for free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch at school. More than 400 packages will be prepared, while packers enjoy treats, holiday music and photos with Santa. Cost is $50 per family. Register at

Toys of yesterday

MICHIGAN CITY — Kids are invited to make their own toys at 10 a.m. Dec. 15 at Barker Mansion, 631 Washington St. Guests will look at Catherine Barker’s historic toys and others from the early 1900’s. Then, they will try to make their own. Cost is $2 per child with each accompanying adult free of charge. Registration is required via Eventbrite or by calling the mansion at (219) 873-1520, ext. 5.

The Sampson's Christmas Concert

CROWN POINT — Southlake Christian Church will host The Sampson's Christmas Concert at 5 p.m. Dec. 15 at 501 Pratt St. Bring nonperishable food items. Call 219-663-1010.

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Community Coordinator

Annette is Community Coordinator for The Times. She has been with the paper for two decades. A resident of Hobart, she graduated from Purdue University with degrees in English and German.