Coming in hot off a period of continued growth and development, the City of Hobart broke records in event attendance this year. With events like the annual Lakefront Fest, Pumpkins in the Park, and the Summer Market on the Lake, the Hobart Parks and Special Events Departments worked hard to make sure that each gathering was filled with as many surprises as there was tradition.
Special Events coordinator Nikki Lopez has made it a goal to enhance every community event a little bit more each year. With unique experiences and collaborations with other organizations, the events have become more exciting for attendees. As Lopez puts it, the events just keep growing.
“Our Summer Market on the Lake that runs June through September was one of our most well-attended events ever,” Lopez said. “We had a consistently good turnout for that by adding little things here and there to the market to make it special, and by partnering with other groups to bring them on board to be a part of the market, as well.”
One of the unexpected quirks that made this year’s market extravaganza stand out? Log rolling. Yes, log rolling of the age-old lumberjack variety, only with imitation logs.
“We went to [a Parks and Recreation] conference and saw this log rolling activity, and apparently it’s this hot new thing taking over college campuses and becoming really popular in different areas,” Lopez explained. “We decided to try our luck, and we purchased one and brought it out to the market three weeks in a row. We brought a huge blowup pool and we let people come hop in the water and try the log rolling. They absolutely loved it!”
The log rolling was such a hit that Hobart Parks was able implement the activity into a summer-long program at the Hobart Community Pool. On their breaks, the Pool’s lifeguards trained to give log rolling classes to swimmers. This was one such surprising success that Lopez hopes to follow up in events to come.
Another purchase Lopez and co. wisely made was a huge movie screen that can float on water. With Hobart’s quintessential Festival Park overlooking Lake George, this has the potential to transform events such as the Annual Lakefront Fest and Movies in the Park, a popular tradition that follows each Summer Market day, into an even more magical experience.
Lopez hopes to float the screen in more Hobart hopping spots next summer. She’s thinking a “Paddle In” showing of Jaws on Robinson Lake would be a thrill for kayakers and boaters.
Another fresher element to the Hobart Events scene is the collaboration with exciting new businesses downtown.
“If you’re from Hobart, you know that, in the past, our downtown had been struggling,” Lopez said. “In the last couple of years, we’ve finally seen a lot of growth!”
With noteworthy additions like Librarium Café, Montego Bay, Toys in the Attic, Green Door Used Books and Studio, and Tom Lounges’ Record Bin, Hobart is experiencing a delightful Renaissance in the downtown community. On November 24, the Downtown Business Coalition teamed up with Hobart Parks and the Hobart Chamber to participate in Small Business Saturday. Free cider, treats, warming stations, promotions, and Christmas-themed fun encouraged citizens from surrounding and nearby communities to stroll about town.
“We’re really turning the downtown around,” Lopez enthused. “And I want the community to be able to come out and support small businesses downtown so we can continue to see that growth.”
To wrap up the year, Hobart is hosting its annual Tree Lighting festivity on Friday, December 7, followed by a Holiday Market complete with some 70 vendors on December 9. The Tree Lighting will boast pictures with Santa in return for a donation to the Food Pantry, free carriage rides, and a thrilling Fire and Ice Show: ice sculptors will be creating art while a fire juggler circles the action.
Each year, the children are invited to participate in a craft at the Tree Lighting. This year, they’ll be writing letters to send to children at local children’s hospitals.
“We thought it’d be a nice way to spread cheer to kids who don’t get to spend Christmas at home,” Lopez said.
The Tree Lighting’s unexpected quirk? Jingle Johns. Yes, singing porta-potties.
“[The potties] are outfitted with lights on the outside, shaped like faces—it actually looks like the portapotties are singing Christmas carols,” Lopez laughed. “It’s hilarious. I thought it’d be something random and fun to add to the mix.”
You’ll just have to see them for yourself…