The Indiana Welcome Center will be hosting its annual Explore the South Shore: Kick-Off the Summer event on Saturday, May 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The first 250 families at the event will receive a regional passport of savings from participating organizations to use over the summer. The first 250 children will receive a free event bag.

The event offers numerous interactive booths featuring giveaways, games and prizes, live entertainment, fun foods, $1 train rides and a free carnival ride. Participating businesses and events include Pierogi Fest®, Albanese, South Shore Civil War Memorial Trail, SouthShore RailCats, the Lake County Fair, Downtown Hammond Council, Cabela's, Challenger Learning Center and many more.

Throughout the event a magician will be walking around and interacting with visitors and will perform a magic show beginning at 1 p.m. Mascots from the Gary SouthShore RailCats, Lake County Fair, Pierogi Fest®, and the Gary Parks Department mascot will also be present.

The founder of the Calumet Region Civil War Preservation Project, Times Investigative Editor Marc Chase, will be answering questions about the region's involvement in the Civil War at a recreated encampment during the event.

In addition to activities, giveaways and games, the Explore the South Shore event will provide information on numerous family-fun events found along the South Shore. For more information, visit the event web page at