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Curtain rises on Hammond’s annual Festival of the Lakes

A group teens — (clockwise from front left)  AnnMartinez MarGomez AliShatIziahl Alborez Adan Ramirez TheresFlores AnissRiverGisselle Gernich Manuel Gomez

A group of teens — (clockwise from front left) Anna Martinez, Mara Gomez, Alia Shatat, Iziahl Alborez, Adan Ramirez, Theresa Flores, Anissa Rivera, Gisselle Gernich, Manuel Gomez, Jacqueline Cortez and Yazmin Burgos — enjoy a funnel cake before going on more rides at Festival of the Lakes in Hammond. | Michelle L. Quinn/for the Post-Tribune

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Updated: August 18, 2014 6:09AM



HAMMOND — What appeared to be a sparse crowd on Festival of the Lakes’ first night Wednesday was more like a “Philly crowd,” according to Mayor Tom McDermott Jr.

“Oh, they will come; it’s just early for many,” McDermott said before taking the stage to announce reggae legend Jimmy Cliff. “And it’s going to be packed tomorrow night and Friday night, which I’m most excited about because I’ve met those guys (in alternative band Sublime) before, and they’re so cool.”

McDermott said there are a lot of changes on the grounds this year, such as moving the food “court” to between the stage and the carnival portion of the festival. Parking is more spread out as well.

“A lighter night is a good opportunity for us to see how the new arrangement will work,” he said. “And the best part is, the weather has zero chance of rain, and that has never happened before. There’s always one day you’re like, ‘Aw, man.’ ”

Catherine Marlow of Highland hung out behind the stage while Northwest Indiana blues legends The Kinsey Report belted out Cliff and Bob Marley tunes to warm up the crowd. Wednesday was the first time she’d ever been to Festival of the Lakes.

“I’ve lived her all my life,” she said. “And I’ve always wanted to see Jimmy Cliff. I can’t believe he’s right here in Hammond. I’m really impressed.”

Over toward the carnival side, a group of teens regrouping at a picnic table had no interest in the musical goings-on. They draw a blank when asked about Cliff.

“I know who he is,” Alia Shatat said.

“Shut up. You do not,” shot back friend Anna Martinez.

The kids said they come to the festival every year to socialize and for the food, and they love just about every second of it.

One thing they weren’t enjoying this year: “Everything’s too expensive,” Anna said.



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