The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority celebrated their 30 years of existence throughout 2013. In addition to the award winning 30 Stops in 30 Days campaign, which brought the South Shore CVA to 30 different partners in five counties, the South Shore CVA supported local festivals and events as well as played host to numerous events and exhibits at the Indiana Welcome Center.

"Our state-of-the-art welcome center, located in Hammond, acts as an attraction on its own," stated Speros A. Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore CVA. "We host several exhibits throughout the year that offer free family fun to visitors and residents." During 2013, the Indiana Welcome Center saw 96,062 visitors.

Exhibits hosted at the Indiana Welcome Center in 2013 include Postcards From My Sixty-Two and a Half Year Vacation, Region United, Nation Divided: The South Shore in the Civil War, Reflections photography exhibit and "A Christmas Story" Comes Home.

"A Christmas Story" Comes Home was a family favorite exhibit, bringing a record setting 32,289 visitors to Hammond. The exhibit included several special events such as the Mommy's Little Piggy mashed potato eating contest, "Oh Fuuudge!" Tire Relay Race, A Major Event and a VIP actor's reception and weekend.

The South Shore CVA kicked off the "A Christmas Story" Comes Home exhibit by unveiling a permanent bronze statue of the iconic flagpole scene from the classic movie "A Christmas Story." The unveiling drew international interest in the story and the city, with news reaching as far as the United Kingdom.

Other major accomplishments made by the South Shore CVA during 2013 include assisting with Leon's "World's Fastest" Triathlon and partnering with Hammond for the annual Festival of the Lakes.

"Festival of the Lakes and Leon's Triathlon are two very prominent events in Hammond," stated Batistatos. "Leon's Triathlon was featured on Comcast SportsNet, highlighting Hammond's diversity and capability to host a major sporting event."

The South Shore CVA partnered with the City of Hammond's Festival of the Lakes to collect data on attendees. Information will be used to help the mayor and his staff make better decisions regarding allocation of sponsorships, advertisements and how funds are spent on musical entertainment.

The South Shore CVA's efforts put Hammond on the national and international map with stories featured on The Today Show, Comcast SportsNet, the Yahoo and AOL homepage as well as Daily Mail in the UK.

For more information on the South Shore CVA, visit www.alongthesouthshore.com.