Highland Parks & Recreation marks 75 years of history with a free event.
The 75th anniversary celebration on June 18 at Main Square Park, one of Highland’s 22 parks, includes a beer garden and 30 vendors such as Highland’s Deon’s BBQ, Hammond’s Bacon Express RNEs, artisans and vendors at several levels.
“It’s quite a milestone. We are thrilled to achieve it,” said Dave Byers, Recreation Director of Highland Parks & Recreation, which was established in 1947.
“We just try to offer something for everyone to enjoy, whether it’s family or adults.”
Created in 2021 in the Region, CultureShock Car Enthusiasts presents a car show from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“One of our groups in town, Highland Main Street, worked with them to put on a downtown car show. Our town knows what they bring,” Byers said.
A Kids Zone featuring bouncy houses, games, balloon twists and a character tour is available from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“We do a story on foot, which is pretty neat. It’s for all ages. They can walk around and read a story on signage,” Byers of Merrillville said.
“After this event, the storytelling walk will move permanently to Meadows Park, where we have walking paths and a pond. The stories will be changed periodically. There are 16 panels that make up this first floor promenade.
“It’s something our staff have seen in other park departments or districts. I’ve seen them myself in southern Indiana, so I know it’s been done before. We just want to see them. ‘Bring to Highland. It’s something to take the kids through the park while reading a story. We thought that was a really cool idea.
The celebration includes live music from Got Issues from noon to 2 p.m., I’m With Frank from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Smolen & Friends from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Underground Prophets from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. All four bands make their Highland Parks & Recreation debut.
“A lot of our employees have heard them at other local festivals and in bars and know they’re really good. They attract a good audience. It’s a good variety of music that appeals to everyone,” Byers said.
“I think a few of them are actually at the 4th of July festival two weeks later, so that will be a good preview for that. The members themselves come from all over northwest Indiana.
Highland Parks & Recreation is highlighting select programs through demonstrations, including a self-defense demonstration by Lucas Dieguez, who runs classes on Mondays and Wednesdays of the month, with the next sessions scheduled for July 6-27 and August 1-31 .
“It’s a very successful program that we’ve been running for a long time. We offer classes that actually start at age 3 and we have four different age groups: 3-5, 6-8, 9-15 and 16+,” Byers said.
“This really applies to anyone interested in learning a new style of self-defense.”
A BodyPump demo by Cherie Reba at 4.30pm shows celebration attendees what’s involved with Highland Parks & Recreation’s new program, which kicked off in January and has its next session scheduled for July 6-27.
“It’s basically dumbbell and light toning classes,” Byers said. The program includes squats, presses, lifts and curls.
Dennis Hauter leads the resistance, intervals, power, plyometrics, endurance and diet demonstration at 7:30 p.m. for the program also known as RIPPED, which began about a year ago at Highland Parks & Break.
Those 18 and older use free weights, resistance bands, and body weight to strengthen their core and other major muscles. The next sessions will take place from June 27 to August 13 (July 2 to 4 holiday) and from August 15 to September 26 (September 3 to 5 holiday).
“We grew to meet the needs of the community as best we could,” said Byers, who joined Highland Parks & Recreation in 2012 after serving as athletic director for Portage Parks and Recreation.
“We are doing more fitness class programs with our aerobics studio. The entire Lincoln Community Center was renovated the year I came on board, so it was a fresh start to be able to program and rent the space we have here.
Highland Parks & Recreation 75th Anniversary Celebration
When: 12pm-11pm June 18
Where: Main Square Park, 3001 Ridge Road, Highland
Information: 219-838-0114; highlandparks.org
Jessi Virtusio is a freelance journalist for the Post-Tribune.