By Megann Horstead | For The Bugle
This past weekend marked the first days of autumn, and with it, came a plethora of fall family fun put on by Woodridge Park District.
Crowds flocked to the annual Indian Summer Festival held Sept. 24 at Castaldo Park.
The event is meant to serve as a kick-off celebration for Woodridge Park District fall programming.
“We’re very proud of the event,” said Amanda Nichols, who organized the festival. “Most events nowadays aren’t free to the community, and [Indian Summer Festival] is a completely free event where people can come out.”
Festival-goers trekked the grounds at Castaldo Park to find hayrides, trackless train rides and a pumpkin moon jump.
“It’s getting into fall and the scarecrow season and Halloween,” Nichols said.
Typically, Indian Summer Festival draws in between 1,200 and 1,500 people.
Attendee Rosa Jovanovikj, of Woodridge, stood in line waiting with her children as they prepared to take a ride on the ponies.
“The whole [event’s ability to bring in families to] gather around with neighbors and all the kids activities is just great,” she said.
Jovanovikj said she and her children enjoyed coming out to the festival so much last year, they returned.
“It’s perfect,” she said. “My kids love the inflatables.”
The event’s popularity rings true for many, Nichols said.
“I think [the festival is huge for families] probably because it is an early fall event, so we’re not waiting until October [when] it’s really cold,” Nichols said. “It’s celebrating the warmer [part of the season] toward the end of summer [and the] beginning of fall. I think the fact that it is a free event is enticing people to come out, too.”
Nichols said the reason for the event’s success boils down to one key factor.
“I think it’s word of mouth,” Nichols said. “It’s just a really nice day out. It’s only five hours long, so it’s easy for families to come out, spend a few hours, get back still in time for dinner and school the next day. I think based on word of mouth, people have just enjoyed the event and they keep telling their friends about it.”
Elsewhere at the park, festival-goers tried their hand at guessing games, giant yard games and slide races.
Valerie Gonzalez, also of Woodridge, said she is glad she and her children decided to drop in for Indian Summer Festival.
“There’s so many people,” she said. “The kids, they get to get out and have a good time before the weather gets cold.”
This year was Gonzalez’s first time attending Indian Summer Festival.
Gonzalez and her family stood in line for face painting. Two of her children wore designs, with one donning swirls and curls and another with a Minecraft-inspired look.