Park Board Picks New Banners, OKs Events

New banners will be hung up in Central Park in April, the 2016 Lakes Festival is June 11-12 and Willie 103.5 is bringing its free Willie Chili Dogs back to Central Park five times this summer.
The City of Warsaw Parks Board discussed all of those at its monthly meeting Tuesday plus reviewed a timeline for preparing the Parks Department’s five-year master plan.
Heather James, event coordinator with the Center for Lakes & Streams at Grace College, gave the board an update on the 2016 Northern Indiana Lakes Festival. The board approved the event in October.
“We are expanding the festival to two days at Center Lake Park. We decided to do that because it helps us convey to people where we’re going to be and when instead of jumping all around like we’ve done it in the past,” she said.
The weekend event will begin with the Aqua Mile as in recent years, and continue with games, activities, bounce houses, crafts, art around the lake, lake education and vendors.
Some of the new things this year James highlighted includes an Adventure Race in partnership with Metzger Outdoors; a cooking demonstration and workshop; and an evening concert followed by fireworks June 11.
On June 12, she said the Lake City Skiers will return for a performance at 1 p.m., followed by student art contest awards and an animal show.
“Lots of different new activities that are being planned,” she said, noting that they’re using a different marketing plan this year to “really get the word out about the festival.”
Superintendent Larry Plummer said he and Maintenance Director Shaun Gardner met with “the duck-calling gentleman” the other day and “it sounds like he’s got people coming from all states, way down south, everywhere.” So many people were registering for that event that Plummer said he was thinking about having more divisions for the competition.
According to the Cold Front Calls Facebook page, registration for The Northern Indiana Lakes Calling Competition begins at 8 a.m. June 11, with the contest starting at 9 a.m. Competitions to be held include Novice Duck, Meat Duck and Two Man Meat Duck. There is an entry fee of $20, and there is a cash prize for the winner.
The website for the Lakes Festival is, but as of Tuesday not all of the events have been updated or listed.
For 2017, the Park Board confirmed with James that the Lakes Festival will be Memorial Day weekend.
From Willie 103.5’s Chris Cage and Kris Underwood, the board heard the radio station was bringing its Willie Chili Dogs back to Central Park for a third year.
Underwood said they give away free chili dogs, hot dogs, bags of chips, water and “lots of giveaways.” The dates the radio station is considering this year are May 18, June 15, July 20, Aug. 17 and Sept. 14. It is 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day at the west shelter, or until all the food is gone.
“Well, I certainly don’t have a problem with it. It’s been a good program for the parks,” Board President Steve Haines said.
Underwood said the radio station enjoys doing it and lots of people “come out of the woodworks” for the free food.
“It’s a good draw for Central Park during the day and you can’t beat free food,” Plummer commented.
The board approved the Willie Chili Days pending space being available on the dates requested.
Plummer showed the Park Board mock-ups of options for new banners to hang in Central Park. The board first discussed replacing the banners at its February meeting.
The first two banners included one that says “Welcome – Warsaw Central Park” over a picture of the Warsaw Biblical Gardens; and the second one has “The Central Park Concert Series” along the left side, “Warsaw Parks & Recreation” at the bottom” and “Fridays 7 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day” on the right side. The other three banners featured parts of the Parks Department’s logo as the banners were too long and narrow to get all three pieces of the logo onto one.
The banners hanging in Central Park now were purchased in 2002 with a grant from the Convention & Visitors Bureau, which declined to offer a grant for the banners this time. The banners will hang on every other light pole in the park.
The board Tuesday approved purchasing 18 each of the first two banners. Plummer said they should be up in April as it will take Big Picture Imagery two to four weeks to make all 36 banners.
Patrick Brown, landscape architect with Sitescapes, Mishawaka, presented the board with a timeline for development of the five-year master plan.
The timeline includes a public survey period from May 18 to June 29; a public meeting July 19 for the board to receive input, comments and ideas; a public review period of the draft Nov. 16 to Dec. 19; and the board will adopt the master plan and submit the final document to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Dec. 20. Updates and reviews of the plan will take place at the Park Board’s monthly meetings.
Brown said it was an “aggressive” schedule to get it done by the holidays and they have until Jan. 15 to get a first draft in and April 15 for the final draft.
“So that sort of gives a couple months of a buffer” if there are any delays, he said.
Later in the meeting, Plummer told the board the Parks was due to replace the playground and exercise equipment at Lucerne Park. The wooden equipment has been there since 1984 or 1985.
He said they’ve met with representatives of Sinclair Recreation, Holland, Mich., which sells Gametime equipment, and ParkRecreation, Valparaiso, which sells Little Tikes equipment. Both companies have been used by the Parks in the past.
Plummer said they want to group the exercise equipment fairly close to the playground equipment. He’s asked both companies to design different layouts and ideas for that. The board will be presented with those designs at its April meeting.
Recreation Director Sheila Wieringa reported the Parks’ 2016 recreation guide should be out in about two to three weeks. It includes a listing of dates and times for events in Warsaw’s parks.