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LaPorte residents can strike up the band with over-sized instruments

An over-sized xylophone-type instrument was recently installed at Unity Park on the shore of Pine Lake. It is one of five to be installed at city parks in an effort to introduce people to music, have fun and highlight the city.

LAPORTE — Residents and visitors to city parks can make beautiful music thanks to the installation of five over-sized instruments.

A xylophone-like instrument already has been installed at Unity Park along the shoreline of Pine Lake. Four others will be installed before the end of the month at Fox Park, Kiwanis-Teledyne Park, the Civic Auditorium and 618 Plaza at Lincolnway and Monroe Street in the city's downtown.

"It’s just a beautiful kind of interaction and a fun kind of element to actually look over the water and play the instrument. It’s really pretty fun," said Laura Cutler, a City Council member and key figure in ordering the instruments from Colorado.

Some look like xylophones. Another, planned for Kiwanis-Teledyne Park, resembles a pipe organ 7 feet tall at its peak. The public can use the rubber mallets fastened by a cord to each of the instruments to strike the keys or simply use their hands.

"It’s a fun way of introducing young people to the idea of playing music," Cutler said.

The instruments cost about $5,000 apiece with each paid for by five sponsors, including LaPorte Rotary Club, which spearheaded the effort. The remaining sponsors are American Licorice, LaPorte Kiwanis Club and the city’s Urban Enterprise Association. A state grant paid for the instrument going up at the Civic Auditorium at 1001 Ridge St.

Mitch Feikes, past Rotary Club president, said the idea is to reflect the rich musical heritage here and help promote the city.

"I think it makes a positive impact. People feel better about living here," Feikes said.

Depending on community response, the goal is to eventually purchase five more instruments and create a musical pathway for residents and visitors to follow so they can play each one, Cutler said.

The one at Unity Park went up first because a concrete pad on which to mount the instrument already existed.

Feikes, owner of a local construction firm, said he’s making arrangements for pouring concrete pads at the other locations. He’s also trying to secure donations of labor and materials to keep the cost of installation to a bare minimum.


Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for more than 38 years, including 23 years with The Times. She covers municipal and school government in Valparaiso and Portage.