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Jumbo-sized musical instruments coming to La Porte

March 22, 2017 GMT

La PORTE — Plans to place five oversized musical instruments at outdoor locations across La Porte will reflect the city’s rich musical heritage, attract visitors and offer play opportunities for children and adults alike, organizers say.

Fundraising is well under way, with installation expected to begin before summer, according to Joyful Noise project organizer Laura Cutler, a City Council member and former executive director of the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra.

“We were looking for something unique for the community, and this project seemed like a perfect fit,” Cutler said.

Chimes standing 7 to 9 feet high and xylophone-like instruments nearly 6 feet across will be installed at Kiwanis Park and Unity Park on Pine Lake, Fox Park on Clear Lake, Plaza 618 downtown and outside the La Porte Civic Auditorium on Ridge Street.

Cutler said "joyful noise" coming from the instruments is comparable to the gentle sound of wind chimes.

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Cost of the project will be about $26,500. Funding commitments so far have come from the La Porte Park Foundation, the local Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, and a handful of individuals.

Kicking off the project last year was a $500 award from the Play Everywhere Challenge, a national competition sponsored by the not-for-profit organization Kaboom that solicited ideas for bringing active play into the daily lives of children.

Cutler teamed with Beth Shrader, the city’s director of Community Development and Planning, in submitting an entry in the competition. Mitch Feikes, a member of the La Porte Parks Board and longtime Rotary Club member, also rallied support for the project.

The first five instruments would be a “nice starting point,” Cutler said, and more could be added, depending on the level of community support. She compared the Joyful Noise project to the scattering of bulldog statues across Crown Point — a unique way to identify the community and develop interest among visitors and residents.

Plans call for three instruments to be permanent and two to be mobile. All the instruments will be well-secured and insured against damage and theft, Feikes told the parks board recently.

The all-weather musical instruments are manufactured and sold by Freenotes Harmony Park based in Durango, Colorado.