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Updated: September 17, 2013 8:15AM



The recent Venetian Night held at the Hammond Marina could easily have been called Venetian Day.

The myriad of activities scheduled for the annual event, sponsored by the Hammond Port Authority and opened to the public, began with kids games on the beach and continued with a dock decorating contest, live music, vendors and fireworks show. The theme for this year was “Bathing Suits and Cowboy Boots.”

“We didn’t have to go far to get our decorations,” laughed Dan McCauley of Crete, Ill., as he dressed the dock entrance near his boat in the marina. “We have a farm, so I brought two saddles and a few bales of hay. We’re definitely keeping in line with this year’s theme.”

The event kicked off on the beach area north or the marina, with youngsters practicing their water balloon toss, hula hoop techniques, and contemplating sack race strategies.

“We have a boat in the marina and enjoy this little beach every weekend,” said Kellie Simmons of Kalamazoo, Mich. “The activities today are making it extra special. My son Preston and his friend are busy building a sand castle for the competition.”

Dozens of youngsters and teens alternated their time between swimming in Lake Michigan and joining the contests supervised by the beach lifeguards.

“I like the water, but it’s really fun to play the games with the other kids too,” said Julieanne Martin, 13, of Merrillville. “We went back-to-school clothes shopping yesterday, so this is probably the last fun for us this summer.”

Shelia and Dennis Spriggs of Eldorado, Ark., were in town to watch their grandson Chance Spriggs play in the Cal Ripkin, Jr . baseball tournament at Hammond’s Optimist Park.

“We are not familiar with northwest Indiana at all, but we’re happy we did travel here. This area is very nice,” Shelia Springs said, as the couple watched boaters decorating their docks. “In between my grandson’s games, we’re looking for things to do and since someone mentioned this Venetian Day, we decided to come. What a great atmosphere — everyone is having so much fun!”

As evening approached, country band Highnoon took the stage to entertain. The dance area on the marina patio was never empty long.

As she greeted new and old customers in the club’s bar and grill, Hammond Yacht Club manager Joanie Klodnicki said that Venetian Night was one of their busiest days of the year.

“Many people aren’t aware that we are here,” she said. “This is such beautiful place, and today gives the community an opportunity to see it all.”

As the sun went down, the beach area was cleared and a fireworks show capped off the 2013 Venetian Night. Many of those in attendance at the event said this was a perfect end to a perfect day.

“This was the best Venetian Night we’ve ever had,” said Hammond Marina coordinator Susan Tabers. “Many people told me our fireworks show was the best they had ever seen.”



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