Local News

Dyngus Day Celebration Stands Tall Over Temporary Downpour

(La Porte, IN) - Not even a 30 minute heavy rainstorm seemed to make a dent in the number of people turning out on Monday for the annual Dyngus Day celebration in LaPorte.


Despite the temporarily wet conditions, people were still getting on and off several charter buses providing free rides from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. to the 11 bars on this year’s route, the services themselves annually paid by participating tavern owners. 


Lena Moffett of LaPorte was on one bus, where the driver allowed riders to choose what music played while they were on board. By 4 p.m., she was taking a bus to her third bar with plans to visit every one on the route.


“I’ve only been to two, so far, but the night is still early,” she said.


“It’s the best time. You get to bounce from bar to bar and enjoy yourself, chimed Sydney Watson, 24, also of LaPorte. It was the second Dyngus Day in a row for Watson, who grew up knowing about the festivities from her mother telling her stories about going out to celebrate.


According to history, Dyngus Day is rooted in Poland centuries ago when people feasted on food and drink after fasting during Lent. The food is just as much as a tradition as partaking of alcoholic beverages during the celebration in LaPorte, organized by tavern owners with a designated bar hopping route 37 years ago.



Howie Hunsley, owner of Dick’s Bar at 912 Lincolnway, said he began cooking polish couisine at 6:30 a.m. in order to get a jump on the rush of dine-in and takeout orders he expected to receive after opening his doors at 11 a.m.


Hunsley said he ordered 180 pounds of Kielbasa sausage, 40 pounds of dried Kluski noodles, 24 gallons of sauerkraut, and 20 gallons of mashed potatoes in advance for Dyngus Day. Two hours after opening, he wasn’t disappointed, but worried about having enough food to last until closing.


“I already went through almost 100 pounds of Kielbasa,” he said.


Shelly Tanksley, owner of Burger Bar & Grill at 821 East Lincolnway, said the number of late morning customers at her establishment was at least three times the amount for a typical Monday.


In advance of the event, she had ordered enough cabbage rolls, mashed potatoes, and bread to feed about 400 dine-in and takeout customers. Tanksley also had at least three times as many kegs of beer and other alcoholic beverages than what she usually has in stock on a normal weekday.


“We’re ready for anybody that’s thirsty,” she said.


Two of her customers, Stephanie Hoffman of LaPorte and Taikasha Peterson of Michigan City, began their time at Burger Bar & Grill by having two shots of liquor and glass of beer apiece to wind down following their shifts at nearby Alpha Baking.  They also ordered chicken strips and French fries they dipped in cheese sauce.


“We’re ready to enjoy,” Peterson said.


They weren’t planning to go bar hopping, however, because of having to get up early again the next morning and report to work.


Adding to the Dyngus Day festivities were the usual buttons given to each customer to pin on their shirts to show which bars they had visited thus far.


Kim Heroldt, owner of Shooter’s Bar & Grill at 201 Washington Street, also draped a necklace of red and white beads over the heads of each customer welcomed inside.


By mid-afternoon, Heroldt already had a good sized crowd listening to the music of a DJ before the anticipated rush of customers.


“After five o’clock, it usually gets wall to wall people,” she said.  


Hunsley, president of the Dyngus Day Committee, noted that the crowds were not quite as jam packed as they once were, but the holiday remains one of the busiest days for local tavern owners.


“Most definitely. It’s always busy,” he said.

Weather Center

High School Scoreboard

Sports Scores