Browing to the beat in Hammond
By Sue Ellen Ross Post-Tribune correspondent July 5, 2013 1:24PM
Karen Maravilla, Downtown Hammond Council president and event coordinator (from left), Laura Gayer winner of the DHC’s Eat Shop & Rock Best Dressed Vendor Contest, and John Cain, South Shore Arts executive director and contest judge at the recent Eat, Shop & Rock event. | Photo provided
Updated: August 8, 2013 6:45AM
Fans of the Beatles recently were in seventh heaven as they attended the fourth annual Eat, Shop & Rock: Browse to the Beat Sidewalk Sale & Fest in downtown Hammond.
Sponsored by the Downtown Hammond Council and billed as a celebration of the 1960s, 1970s and The Beatles, the event did not disappoint attendees.
“I’m a Beatles fanatic from way back,” said Karen Radcliff of Schererville as she perused the various vendors set up along Hohman Avenue. “It’s exciting to add to my memorabilia collection. I’ve already picked up a few t-shirts, a purse and a picture of the Fab Four I’ve never seen before.”
Hundreds of other shoppers did likewise, as they purchased various items, chose their lunch from among the pizza, pork chop, tacos and hotdog food vendors and listened to live Beatles music performed by local musicians The Chris and Lou Band.
“No better way to spend the day,” said Hammond resident Tom Pizano as he enjoyed a cool drink near the picnic tables set up in front of the make shift musical stage.
“I’m a big Beatles fan, so I really enjoy the things they are selling here and the band’s music is great.”
Sisters Roxy Cortes and Melissa Gomez of Chicago enjoyed browsing the dozens of vendors offering jewelry, hats, home decorations and the like.
“We’re having a great time, there’s so much to see,” Cortes said.
Her sister added that although the two already had many bags to juggle, they weren’t done shopping. “We’re not ready to leave quite yet,” she laughed.
Down the street from the food and vendor area, local historian Tony Diaz presented free tours through Harrison Park, a 125-year old, 25-acre tract of land, one of the city’s oldest parks.
“Harrison Park has so much rich history; many people aren’t aware of this,” Diaz said. “This (event today) was a great way to showcase the park by offering the tours.”
Diaz recently purchased property across the street from the park, which holds a lot of history itself. The house, built in 1894 on the property located directly north of Harrison Park, once belonged to A. Murray Turner, Hammond’s first parks superintendent.
Both Jan Marovich and Tom Wallace grew up in the area, and commented on the future of downtown as they perused tables set up in Diaz’s yard.
As the couple thumbed through music albums and Hammond memorabilia, they agreed that Hammond would never rebound as the shopping mecca it once was, but other positive things are taking the place of that atmosphere.
“They are trying a different approach,” Marovich said, citing the Towle Theater, Blue Room Café and other businesses. “These all bring foot traffic to downtown Hammond. And events like today also bring back so much of Hammond’s history.”
In addition to the music and shopping vendors, vintage cars also were on display during the festivities, as well as various contests available for children and adults.
This is the fourth time that the Downtown Hammond Council has offered the Sidewalk Sale and Festival, which has grown exponentially each year.
The Council plans many other events in the community, among them an annual Bizarre Bazaar in Harrison Park during September, and “A Christmas Story Celebration” in November.
For more information about the Downtown Hammond Council, call 512-4298.