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Kick off holidays with Winter Lights Night

Updated: January 13, 2014 2:31AM



Saturday’s Winter Lights Night Festival at Sunset Hill Farm County Park in Valparaiso is opening night for the festive light display that will brighten spirits while lighting weekend nights through the end of the year.

It all kicks off on Saturday with family activities from 3 to 8 p.m.

“There are over 300 light displays, large and small. There’s a roller coaster, farm scenes, dolphins and sharks, Martians, ice skaters, and so many others. We try to add new ones every year,” said Geri Rose of Porter County Parks and Recreation.

“I think one thing kids enjoy is looking for their favorites from past years and trying to find new ones. One of the new things this year that we’re really excited about is a solar-powered light display completely built by high school students.”

At Winter Lights Night Festival visitors take a tractor-drawn wagon ride past the light displays set up around the park buildings and grounds.

Carolers will also set a festive tone to the event.

“There will be Victorian carolers from the Memorial Opera House, and scouts, school groups and other carolers,” said Rose.

The Winter Lights Night Festival also offers crafts and activities indoors and in a heated tent, including cookie decorating, face painting, and writing letters to Santa. Visitors can also register to win a door prize and vote for their favorite in this year’s student art show, which has a snow globe theme this year, according to Rose.

“I think the most popular part of the festival every year is visiting Santa. Mrs. Claus will be there too,” Rose said. “This year Santa has asked that children bring a canned good for the food pantry.”

Food and beverage concessions will be available, and items such as glow necklaces will be available for purchase.

“I’d encourage families to stick around for the finale: fireworks at 7:30 p.m. — it’s just beautiful, and such a nice way to end the evening,” said Rose.

Admission to the Winter Lights Night Festival is $5 per carload and includes the wagon ride and activities. Sunset Hill Farm County Park is at 775 Meridian Road in Valparaiso, just south of Highway 6 and about one mile west of State Road 49.

The lights will stay on for free drive-through visits on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 5 to 9 p.m. through New Year’s Day.

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, men and women in German lederhosen — and Catholic nun habits — and children in pinafores made from draperies are just some of the audience costumes likely to be seen at the “Sing-A-Long Sound of Music” at the Music Box Theater in Chicago, Nov. 29 through Dec. 1.

This fun annual event starts with a costume contest and information/warm-up session explaining how the sing-along works, including audience responses to certain characters on the screen and how and when to use the “goody bag” containing a variety of props that each audience member receives with their admission.

The song lyrics are written in subtitles on the screen, though many audience members know the songs, as well as the film’s dialog word for word.

Tickets are $12.50, or $8 for children 12 and under. For more information, screening times and a link to purchase tickets, note that some past screenings have sold out, go online to www.musicboxtheatre.com and click on special events.



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