City Life

12 Things You Only Understand If You Grew Up In Valparaiso, Indiana

Valparaiso may not be a huge, bustling city like Chicago or New York City, but it has its quirks. These are 12 out of many things you’ll get if you grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana.

1. Telling everyone you meet that you’re from Chicago, IL.

I think this tweet says it all.

2. Everything popcorn related.

We’re home to the Popcorn Festival, which started to celebrate the development of Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn. 2019 will be the 40th anniversary of the Popcorn Festival! If you don’t feel like waiting until September to get your popcorn fix, there’s shops downtown and all over the region to visit. Anytime of the year, you can visit the Orville Redenbacher statue at the entrance of Valpo’s downtown park!

3. Trains. So many trains.

You know the story, it’s your first day of school, it’s the grade determining presentation, it’s prom night and BAM! You’re stuck behind a train, but wait! Here comes another train. Depending on where you grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana, this could be a daily nuance. Whether this is your daily routine or just when you really need to be somewhere, we all know the pain of being stuck behind a train.

4. Corn. Fields. Everywhere.

No matter how old you are, where you live, or what event it’s for, corn is part of your life if you grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana. Corn runs through your veins. The smell of meat and corn grilling in the summertime, the obscene amount of corn roasts, corn stands at the fair, 4th of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, corn mazes, etc, etc. Not liking corn when you live in Valparaiso is almost blasphemous.

5. Summertime in Valpo.

There’s so many things happening in the summer, it’s impossible to bored. There’s movies in the park, concerts at Front Porch Music, Zao Island and their renovated arcade room, and of course there’s the beach. But the best part about summer in Valpo is when Nelson’s chicken is in town. My family and I like them so much that they catered for my open house.

6. All the food your heart desires.

There’s new places popping up downtown all the time and there’s always the classics no matter what your taste is. If you have a sweet tooth, there’s Valpo Velvet, Pat’s Parlor, Designer Desserts, and South Bend Chocolate Co. Seafood lovers, there’s Martinis, Blue Point, and my personal favorite Furin. If you love trying classic food in new ways, there’s Sage, Ricochet Tacos, Radius, and The Rolling Stonebaker. There’s so many places to try if you want a sit down dinner, only dessert, coffee, or even snacks!

7. Being a Region Rat.

Claiming Chicago sports teams as your own. Never getting a snow day unless there’s 10 feet of snow on the ground. Bumping into someone and saying “ope”. Drinking pop, not soda. Lake effect snow. February 19 is a holiday for you. Lemon rice soup and strong opinions on who serves the best. Southlake mall is known as “the mall”. I could go on forever.

8. Valplayso.

I’m talking about the old wooden wonderland with the walls of handprints we all played on as kids. Begging our parents anytime the weather was nice if we could go and no matter how long you spent there it was never long enough. Even going as a teenager or young adult just to reminisce the good ol days. Viva La Valplayso.

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9. Everyone has “their” supermarket.

There’s Stracks, Town and Country, Jewel, Aldi, Target, Costco. Target only started selling groceries in 2010, but who doesn’t just love Target. No matter where you shop, you’re fiercely loyal to your store and rarely stray unless absolutely necessary.

10. All of the driving hazards.

We all know driving in the summertime is a mess. There’s been construction on US 30 seemingly since we all were born. It’s a miracle anyone living in northwest Indiana gets anywhere with all the road trouble we have. There’s potholes bigger than lake Michigan, construction from June till September, a million and a half railroads, and there’s always deer jumping out of cornfields on dark, back roads.

11. Viking pride.

Chances are if you grew up in Valpo, you went to Valparaiso High School. Going to VHS came with many traditions, Friday night football games, late start Wednesday, students aiding, picking your own locker as a senior, beating Chesterton at anything, and liking IU OR Purdue. Even if you’ve graduated VHS, you still hold a deep pride for the school and their sports team. Go Vikes!

12. Loving Valpo, wherever you are.

Growing up in Valpo means loving your town even when you leave. It means loving all of the traditions, quirks, and slang that comes with living in Valpo. If you stay and raise a family like your family before you or if you venture out away from the Region, Valparaiso never leaves your heart.

What are some other things only someone who grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana would understand? Share in the comments below!
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