Each year the Valpo Parks Foundation hosts a party in one of their beautiful parks, but this year the party took place at Valpo’s newest location - the William E. Urschel Pavilion. The pavilion - which has now been turned into an ice rink - was center stage as it was open for donors to take the first skate on the ice. The event was also an opportunity to explore the Indiana Beverage Activity Center, enjoy food and drinks at Central Park Plaza, but most importantly - to raise money for the Valparaiso Parks Foundation.
For the past few years the Parks Foundation has gathered hundreds of community members together for their annual celebration and biggest fundraiser on a warm night in August, but for the first time ever Party in the Park was a party on a chilly November night. It turned out to be a perfect opportunity to showcase the new downtown facilities and to allow the people who helped the pavilion come to fruition enjoy a night making the most of it. John Seibert, Director of Parks and Recreation, said that Party in the Park is not only a celebration of a new addition to downtown, but a thank you party to the people who have helped them along the way.
“This is really a ‘thank you’ to our contributors and partners that have allowed the growth of Central Park to happen, and to allow them to see what they’ve helped us build,” Seibert stated. “Our committee made the wonderful decision to move this event from the summer to November in conjunction with the preview for the rink, and it’s proved a smart decision by the turnout we have tonight. There’s nothing better to hear our contributors say ‘This is better than we thought it’d be’. As a partner of theirs that’s the kind of reaction we want to deliver.”
It’s without a doubt that the William E. Urschel Pavilion rink was the crown jewel of this year’s Party in the Park, but the party had a lot more than just an open skate for their donors. With ice skating performances from the Midwest Ice Training Center, rides on the Frontier Communications Zamboni, music by Chris and Lou, delicious food provided Stacks Bar & Grill, and Chicago Blackhawks National Anthem singer Jim Cornelison making an appearance, it was a jam-packed evening.
Jamie Sulcer, Chairperson of the Party in the Park Committee, said that the change of venue and entertainment for this year’s event worked perfectly for showcasing Valpo Park’s exciting addition.
“We were very lucky that this year we had the opportunity to move the party in November to highlight the opening of this location, and it’s been a very exciting change.” Sulcer explained. “We’ve typically had a game show be the main source of entertainment for the Party in the Park, but this year we’re opening the ice rink for attendees to be the main show. There’s been a lot of hype about ice skating rink, because it’s very beautiful, but it’s also apparent that they’re also here to support the parks - which is fantastic to see.”
The night ended with many strapping on skates and taking laps around the freshly frozen ice, and joy on their faces with having the ability to use the facilities to its full potential under the Technicolor lights - despite a few taking some nasty falls. Among the many who were watching the first skaters taking advantage of the rink was Cinda Urschel, whose grandfather was William E. Urschel and has been an advocate of the pavilion from the start. She summed up the night by not only explaining how elated she is for seeing the pavilion being so appreciated by the people who attended, but having parks department that supplies the community with facilities like the rink.
“It just thrills me for the community to have something special like this. This pavilion will help pull everyone together - during the summer or the winter. It means so much to me to have something like this for our city, whether [Urschel] is on it or not,” Urschel stated. “Tonight’s been wonderful, so many age groups came out, and the support for the Parks Foundation is so important. This pavilion has a great emotional attachment for our family, but it’s great to see that soon it will have the same attachment for others.”
Though the public has yet to use the facilities, and the night was touted as a “VIP Reception” for the pavilion, it’s easy to see that the Party in the Park was a precursor to what the Valparaiso community will gladly take advantage of throughout the winter. With a party that not only raises money for a foundation that allows the park department to continue doing great things for the city and allowed for hundreds to have some fun on them, it was a great example of community togetherness at its finest.
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