Meet Steve Lombardo! Steve resides in Ogden Dunes. He teaches Spanish, Russian, and ESL. He works at Chesterton High School and is also the director of the International Film Series at Purdue Calumet. Steve is a father of one who stays active outdoors in the dunes during all four seasons. He and his daughter are often the first ones in Lake Michigan after the spring thaw!
What brought you to the dunes? It was the only part of Chicagoland whose woods, hilly terrain, and lakeshore echoed those of my home in the Finger Lakes of New York.
How long have you lived here? I have adopted this area for the last 17 years. And though I have explored a solid chunk of it, there do remain some wooded areas for me to get lost in.
What is your favorite thing to do in the area? Judging by the number of days I dedicate to doing it, I’d say my favorite thing would have to be running through the dunes. On my runs It’s my habit to measure the distance but not my time. This way I’m not deterred from stopping along the way and taking in my surroundings.
Tell us a secret about the dunes. When I venture off trail I sometimes stumble upon some secret shacks, forts, tree houses, and shanties left behind by kids or itinerants. Some of these are quite elaborate. Last year I came across one with plexiglass walls. The tree forts are there, but they are harder to spy.
Give us your top three “hidden treasures” (restaurant, shop, trail, beach, event…really anything!)
a. Val’s pizza in Chesterton is the closest I have come to discovering New York style pies in the Region. The only drawback in living close to Chicago? The influence of its overblown pizzas.
b. The Memorial Day service at the old Augsburg Swedish School in Porter. It’s the one day of the year you’re ensured a look inside of this historical one-room schoolhouse. If you hang around long enough, they might even let you ring the old school bell.
c. El Ranchero is stashed away in New Chicago. It’s restaurant on one side and Mexican bakery on the other. This is where I go to get my Three Kings’ Cake (roscones) for the Feast of The Epiphany (January 6, The Day of the Three Wise Kings).
What would you like to teach people about the dunes? The Indiana Dunes have been an ideal habitat for me as a free-range parent. My daughter is now 16 and she has been able to spend much of her childhood and youth experiencing nature and the outdoors directly and independently, minus the interpretive lens of adults and their encroaching security concerns. It is so rewarding to see her now as a young adult entirely at home alone in the woods or venturing way over her head in the lake just as had happened to me back in the Finger Lakes.
Anything else? I serve as director of the International Film Series at Purdue Calumet. Each week of the academic year we present a critically-acclaimed film at no charge with faculty-guided open discussions at movie’s end.