Happy Birthday, South Bend

Can you believe it, summer is nearly upon us and I have not even thought about all the things I want to do this summer! Usually by now I have a list a mile long of all the places I want to visit, things I want to do, and projects that need to be finished. Seems like yesterday I was shuffling though the snow wishing for more sun and warmer temperatures. We are nearing the end of May already and Michiana is ripe with color and fragrance! It is as if we have gone from black and white to Technicolor overnight! My youngest has successfully completed her freshman year at Bloomington and acclimating to life back home for the summer (I remember last year at this time bemoaning her leaving the nest).  And with the Memorial Day weekend upon us, it’s time to dust off those lawn chairs and start making plans for the few months ahead. 

One thing I know for sure, for at least this coming weekend, I will be sticking close to home.  This weekend commemorates the 150th birthday of South Bend! And there is quite the party planned! Most of the action will take place on and around the river, with different hubs of activity throughout. We are talking zip lines, helicopter rides, light shows, art, music, and so much food! 

Although I did not grow up in South Bend, I have made this area my home for the past 30+ years.  Yes, I could have probably could have moved elsewhere, but truthfully, I have grown quite found of my adopted city. It is small enough to be accessible and big enough to offer a wide range of activity to satisfy most everyone’s interests.  It has been a great place to raise my kids and a fun and interesting place to hang out.  And, if I were to name one thing that I love most, it would have to be the St. Joseph River. No matter the season, or the time of day, it has been an unlimited source of delight for my family and me. We have walked, biked, canoed, and played along the river. I never grow tired of its changing beauty through the seasons or the way the light reflects and sparkles on it’s surface. 

In addition to the river, here are a few more reasons to love South Bend:

  1. South Bend Farmer’s Market.  The market was established in 1911 and has been at its current location since 1928. This time of year is especially wonderful. On Saturday mornings it is bustling with people and a delight to the senses. And starting this month, the market will be open til 6 on Tuesdays and Thursdays!
  2. Potawatomi Park and Zoo. This is one of the oldest zoos in Indiana. My girls and I have spent many an afternoon animal watching.  The greenhouse was part of our weekly afterschool venture to the library and park.
  3. Studebaker National Museum. What a wonderful slice of South Bend history! These cars are works of art. The museum is spectacular! And remember, we have museum passes to check out at the library.
  4. Downtown South Bend. When I was a kid, the big adventure of the week was to come to the big city of South Bend. I remember driving down Portage Avenue and looking at all the big houses and businesses along the way, anticipating our big shopping trip. My best memory is going to Sears and getting sour cherry candies for the trip home. The downtown area struggled for many years and for a while there really was no downtown to come to. Now, it has become my favorite place to hang out. It is vibrant and alive. I love walking around during my lunch hour and spending my weekends listening to local music.
  5. St. Joseph County Public Library.  What can I say, this is one of best library systems in the country. And, I may be a little biased, but this is one of the coolest places to hang out. I am also quite lucky to work here. One of the cool things that I have recently enjoyed using is looking through the postcards, which is part of Michiana Memory, Local History’s digitized collection. Check out this beautiful collection and explore some of South Bend’s history. And, while I am on the subject of the library, we have just added another really cool item you can check out: Telescopes! Say what??!! Beginning May 21 you will be able to check out a telescope for 21 days. These telescopes will be available in the Children's Services of the Main Library and most of the city branches. This project was made possible through a small grant from SB150 and the Michiana Astronomical Society as part of a "Scope out South Bend" initiative.

This is only a small list of the things that South Bend and the surrounding area has to offer, but both time and space are limited here. So, get out there, enjoy and explore and, don a party hat and celebrate South Bend’s 150th!

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