When the Halloween season rolls around, the park puts away the holly in favor of haunted fun. The Nightmare from North Street haunted barn promises ghosts, zombies, ghouls, and goblins in spooky, family oriented attractions. Santa’s Village Azoosment Park is open Friday and Saturday nights during October, offering rides, games, eats, treats, and an outdoor beer garden.
When he shuts up his workshop at the North Pole after another successful holiday season, Santa Claus doesn't simply hibernate until next December. Instead, he packs up his sleigh and heads to his summer home at the Fox River Valley's Santa's Village Azoosment Park. Open from May to October, the wonderland greets guests with three separate amusement experiences. The fun begins in Santa's Village, where quaint alpine building and expertly manicured pathways awaken feelings of nostalgia in hearts young and old. There, visitors can zoom down the original Santa's Tree House Slide, hitch a ride on the Kringle Convoy, or snap a picture at a recreation of Santa's North Pole home. They can also tap into the amusement rides including the antique carousel, the Tilt-A-Whirl, and Dracor's Dragon Coaster.
A renowned lover of animals, Santa has also filled his park with a menagerie of animals both familiar and exotic. After visiting Rudolph and company at Reindeer Ridge, visitors can grab a ride on a horse-drawn sleigh on their way to see the denizens of Parakeet Paradise, Tortoise Island, or Old MacDonald's Farm and Petting Zoo. In addition to grabbing up-close peeks of everything from a red-tailed boa to a fennec fox, visitors can also take in an exotic animal show that educates audience members about the park's wild residents.
In addition to the traditional rides that have made the park a destination for generations of families, Santa's Village Azoosment Park also welcomes new thrills for the 2013 season. The Ding'em Dodge'em Bumper Cars invite drivers to live out demolition derby fantasy's from the safety of a rubber-ringed car. Always in the holiday spirit, the park welcomes groups looking to add a spark to reunions, birthday, or group outings. This accommodating spirit even extends to the park's rule book: parking is free, and picnic baskets are encouraged.
A buzzing crowd gathers around the entrance of the Zoppé Family Circus tent before each performance, straining to glimpse the wooden hands of a large clock that displays the next showtime. When the moment is nearly at hand, members of the family emerge from the cavernous tent to greet their guests. As they introduce their siblings, spouses, and children, an accordion exhales melodies first heard in 1842, when Napoline and Ermenegilda Zoppé traveled from Budapest to Venice for their first show.
Inside the tent, Napoline and Ermenegilda’s descendants effortlessly balance on wires and swing from trapezes. Just below their aerial stage, horses trot around a sawdust ring as equestrian ballerinas display a brand of showmanship worthy of comparison to John Wayne's performance in The Lone Leotard. Between acts, Giovanni Zoppé takes on the persona of Nino the clown—a lovable character whose earnest efforts to steal the show are thwarted by his own buffoonery.
More than 30 television screens glow within the crimson-walled interior of Wild Bull Bar & Grill, where thirsty sports fans cheer on Bears, Blackhawks, and Bulls between sips of brew. The kitchen dishes out finger fare from curly fries to wings slathered in eight types of sauce—including super-spicy suicide sauce—as well as hearty pub fare such as the 10-ounce Wild Bull burger. Colored lights paint the dance floor as rug-cutters tap toes, and the bar's agenda book is packed with live music, trivia nights, and doodles of Sid Luckman riding a bucking bronco.
Opening weekend is a time for renewed hope, reordered batting lineups, and refreshing scents of glorious gunpowder in the sky. Catch the Flyers on May 28 for post-game fireworks after the hometown bats light up the Gary SouthShore RailCats, or pay homage to babies named Ruth as you run the bases with the kids on Family Day May 30. On May 31, remix Memorial Day grill-outs by downing two dogs off the bat, and score dollar dogs throughout game. Armed with a starter kit of ballpark eats and ballgame spheres, show the youngsters how to properly grip a fastball, a frank, and a cardboard sign that irrefutably proves fanmanship.