Celebrating 150 Years! Schererville Anniversary: Autistic Journeys

What a surprise that evening was. As all things in life, change is always a constant and tends to happen when you least expected it. Great opportunities tend to come when you least expect it and when they do, you sometimes have to snag it right then and there before it gets away. Otherwise that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see and become something great can be gone. Bit of a strange dramatization concerning the subject some might say, but in this case it was an event that will never be repeated, in which I almost passed it up and missed a great time.

Working on a couple of projects that were piling up, I received a text from my friend Ron inviting me to come practice photography at an upcoming event, which a business called JumpStartPR requested photos. This event in question being the 150th year anniversary for an Indiana town named Schererville and the main event was a fireworks show late in the evening. Since I had some work to finish I waited right up to the day of celebration and at first decided to decline the offer. The website was in the middle of being updated with a new template along with a number of fixes that I thought needed to be done immediately.

Alas, fate has such a strange sense of humor. As per usual this time of year, some neighbors decided to light the fireworks early, which caused a number of dogs in the neighborhood to start barking like mad. My dog has a habit of barking at any faint noises, including other dogs in the neighborhood, so of course he would respond as well. All of this was breaking my concentration and driving me slowly insane from the surrounding banter.

In the end, I decided to go to the 150th anniversary event after all. Due to waiting that long I knew I was going to be a little late, but better late than never. Would still be in time to watch the main event of the evening and a little extra time to explore around the park. With that said, I packed up my camera shoulder bag and drove off. It didn’t go without a hitch however. I realized that I needed to fill up the tank on the way there and did so, along with the typical traffic problems.

As luck would have it, the place was easy enough to find. The parking areas were crowded to capacity when I arrived and followed a beeline towards the very back of a field, far from where the main event was. It took a while, but eventually was able to park the car at the edge of a forested area and began my long trek towards where the festivities were taking place. I can not emphasize enough the amount of people that were entering. It was absolutely gargantuan! Long lines of participants were walking almost in unison, snaking around vehicles both parked and moving towards the fenced off area. One field past the fence was left wide open with the soccer goals still left in place, where some people decided to either play with footballs thrown into the air or set up their seats to watch the fireworks from afar. Most however walked past and headed their way to an area full of vendors.

 

Happy 150 Years Schererville, Indiana!
Young and elderly attending the celebration

Moving through the crowd, I eventually arrived at the photo booth where I assumed Ron Delhaye would be taking photos, but he was nowhere to be seen. It was situated just outside the area in front of a baseball field, where the front row seats of the fireworks show would be taking place. Looked to be the perfect spot for photographing up close. At least I hope it was. I spent a small amount of time looking around trying to find my friend in case he was hidden among the crowd, but no luck. One phone call later to find out where he went, I learned that he headed back to his car to retrieve some more camera gear and then responded that he would meet me at the gray stage further back from my current position.

Bordering the area for the fireworks show was a variety of stalls set up in a curved line around the area, with the food being sold further back in a separate row. It was a good thing I had already eaten beforehand. Due to the mad rush of getting there in time, I had forgot to withdraw some money from my local bank. Made the assumption when the realization came that it's doubtful that they would accept credit cards. At least that’s how I remembered when I went to county fairs as a small child. Thinking about the memories already has me wishing I could eat a good old elephant ear, which is basically fried dough that is then sprinkled with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. The sweet and savory memory was flooding my mind and still does on occasion even now.

Sharing space with the food stands was a large gray stage that stood high, with a couple of large amp speakers on each side. A few instruments and band members were sitting there for a short while as I wondered if they were going through some technical difficulties that prevented them from playing. It can happen to the best of days after all. I stood in place waiting for Ron to arrive while taking a good look around. Kept wondered how I would capture the scene around me as I adjusted the settings on my camera. I have been to one event before, but only had an iPhone on hand at the time and tried my best to get some behind-the-scenes footage for another photographer I knew for his own blog or self-promotion. This time I have much better gear with me, and yet wasn’t sure how to go about photographing the event to be honest. Beforehand I had only done landscapes and nature photos with occasional wildlife. This was new territory for me.

 

Vendor at Schererville's 150 Year Anniversary celebration
Families and pets exploring the grounds

It seems that quite a number of people like to believe that they could choose any random photographer for taking photos of their portrait, wedding, or event on the flip of a coin. The thing that I’ve learned while pursuing this profession, however, is that every category in photography is a completely different beast in terms of how you go about doing the job, right down to what settings and your skills are. For landscapes you need great patience while waiting for that one perfect photo opportunity, some even camping all day or night just to get that golden hour during the sunrise or sunset respectively. For photography of events such as sports or even wildlife, you need to be ready on the dime and execute the photo flawlessly when the special moment happens. If not, you could possibly end up missing that one special shot that could launch your career to the moon.

This is also not considering how many types of photography there actually are to cover, each with their own methods and required gear to get the job done. It's mind-blowing when you think about it and all the hard work it actually takes.

While anyone can pick up a camera and shoot, but it takes great skill and timing to get those special photos that are treasured for ages to come. I have taken a great number of shots that I have treasured, but still feel like there is always something new I could learn and it’s part of why I still feel excited to go out and take photos. There is always room to learn and grow and I still feel like my journey is still barely past the starting line. Was taking yet another step in the world of photography and what it had to offer. The prospect of learning new skills still has me feeling excited even as I type this blog.

I turned around to find Ron looking at me with his camera up and taking a few photos of the surrounding crowd. One handshake later turned into a small discussion on how life has been for us both since our last meeting. Things have been looking up for him with getting photography gigs such as this while I have been very busy with tasks on my end for the website changes. It can get overwhelming with everything that needs to be finished while operating a business, as I have been experiencing. Only thing I can do is take things one step at a time. For that evening, it was assisting Ron photographing the event.

Ron Delhaye taking a photo of me
Ron Delhaye looking for new photo subjects in Schererville

Eventually all of the band members got up on stage and stated that the technical issues that were plaguing them at the moment have been fixed at last, thus they were able to continue playing for the crowd surrounding the area. The band in question is named The Spoken Four, one of the best live bands in the Chicago area with singer Nicole Garza and guest singer Chad Burton. The band got started with a number of classic tunes from different decade periods. Couples and especially the kids started to dance around to the beats of the songs with such high energy that it was hard to not as least tap your feet along with them. I especially liked the harmonization during the main chorus lines of September. They certainly have quite a talent at singing that is for sure! Everyone was Party Rocking in the house that night and was having a very good time!

During all of the excitement and celebration, Ron and another photographer were taking backstage and front stage photos of the band and the festivities happening all around. I tried my best to rely on instinct as I raised the camera in anticipation to capture what I thought could become great moments, while at the same time staying clear out of the other photographers' way so that they can do their jobs. Sometimes it never happened at all, while others did and ranged from me being either too slow or was able to capture it to perfection. It was certainly a valuable learning experience trying to find all these special moments to get on camera.

The Spoken Four rocking the stage!
Ron Delhaye working the camera
Children petting dogs at the park.
Girl running to the stage and dance with everyone else
Couple having a good time

A new opportune photo came up later in front of the Popsicle/snow cone truck parked just by the stage. Looks like some people decided to bring their pets as well to the celebration. A couple of dogs were standing nearby with their owners, with a few wanting to play rough with each other with their own type of amusing games. My dog is the same way, in which he goes wild with trying to take the dog toy away from my hand and shake it viciously. These dogs never got too rough and out of control however, as a couple of small kids walked up to pet them with glee. Another special moment captured for the photo album! I would have gone over to pet one of the dogs as well, but my allergies unfortunately wouldn’t allow that without retaliation. Off the top of my head, I couldn't remember if I had taken my allergy medication or not. How was I able to have a pet dog then despite the allergy problem? Not all breeds of dogs have fur. The dogs present on the other hand did.

The music continued blasting through the amps as the sun began to set in the distance. I checked my phone to find that it was almost time for the final event of the evening. Everyone else began to notice this too, as people started gathering for front row seats by the baseball field. Ron and I eventually settled in a spot that he considered not too far or close as he began to set up the tripod for his camera. I haven’t purchased mine quite yet so had to try my best to keep my hands steady for each and every shot I was going to make.

A couple of times Ron went off to take panoramas and shots of people settling in their little camp spots, prepping up for the show. I stayed behind to keep an eye on his stuff, taking panorama shots of my own from where I stood. A few people working the stalls took this as an opportune time to walk around and start selling glow sticks displaying multiple neon colors while fireworks were being shot far in the distance by other people. I assumed like in my neighborhood, some were just that impatient to wait until Independence Day to shoot rockets into the night sky. After a while Ron finally returned and began to attach his camera to the tripod again, preparing to record some videos as well as take some photos. My aim was to take photos only. Music from the band eventually went quiet and was eventually replaced with classic patriotic tunes which started to play through the speakers. It was time for the rockets to launch.

Ron Delhaye taking photos of the gathering crowd at the Schererville fireworks show

The show began with a small hitch, with a firework that didn’t go off as planned. I noticed a small fire behind one of the building structures, but the flame stayed small and barely visible. Probably was going to start with very small rockets and slowly grow into a gigantic climax of epic fireworks proportions. After a brief silence, the show continued as a large variety of rockets shot into the sky in a blaze of glory. Each shot exploded in the chilled air with displays of silver, gold, and eventually a multitude of colors that shot out in all kinds of different directions and patterns. Each one kept the audience in awe as the kids gasped then shouted in excitement of all the sparks showering the dark evening sky. One song after another blared through the speakers as the fireworks shot in unison to the beats of each tune. Eventually a barrage of them shot up continuously in a glorious display of red, white and blue with the national anthem playing proudly in the background. Ron and I moved our cameras throughout the grand show trying to capture and record every single rocket that shot into the air. I haven't viewed a fireworks show up close in quite a long time, so to be here and now able to preserve the sights with a camera was quite an awesome experience.

The remaining fireworks went off as the audience gave a roaring applause. I lowered my camera and had a feeling of excitement to upload and see how the photos turned out. A shame that the smile ended up turning into a frown, as Ron then mentioned that we will have to race to exit the park before the entire crowd does. After packing our cameras away swiftly we said our goodbyes and headed off to our cars along with everyone else on what was a thrilling evening. Ron was able to park near the entrance and had no problems exiting in a timely manner. I was not as fortunate as it took what felt like an eternity just to exit my parking spot. I decided to then call Ron one more time for the night and continue our conversation about the photo shoot the next day. Had nothing else to do while waiting for the crowd to get clear enough for me to back out of my parking spot and get in line.

At least there were no accidents as the people parked in the back drove out the exit right onto Route 30 without incident. One by one, inch by inch we moved and eventually I was finally able to see my way out, with traffic cones and a police car covering a lane from Route 30 in order for everyone to ease on out. A few policemen were out motioning for cars to continue moving forward and keeping everything in order. The rest of the drive was rather quiet, with me searching for any store open that served coffee late in the evening. Didn't want to fall asleep at the wheel after all.

In the end, I was glad that I changed my mind and went to the fireworks show while being satisfied on learning new techniques learned that evening. So many happy memories were now preserved in an event that would not happen again. After that, I was already hyped up for another photo shoot that was set the next day. More on that in the next blog post. See you then!

To learn more about JumpStartPR, visit their website here.

Want to learn more about the band The Spoken Four and where they are touring next? Visit their website here.

Also visit my friend Ron Delhaye's website to view his work here!