From Hawaii to Hamilton County

When I came to Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana in the summer of 2000 it was to study Landscape Architecture and play on the volleyball team. When asked where I was from, “Hawaii” would get quite the shocked look and standard question of “Why the heck are you here?!” My sarcastic retort of “Because I love winter” always got a laugh. At the time, I figured Indiana was a place of temporary residence for me and that Hawaii is where I would head back to after finishing my education.

Fast forward to summer of 2011—after a few years in Orlando, marrying a Hoosier from southern Indiana, and spending a couple years married without kids in Hawaii—we found ourselves back in Indiana, and specifically Fishers to start the next phase of life with twins on the way!

Now, 12 years into our Hamilton County living, and with three kids ages 11, 11, and 7, winter definitely has grown on me. With so many options around the county, here are a few that we have enjoyed together that Hawaii certainly couldn’t match:

Sledding Hill at Heritage Park at White River: When enough snow falls, we bundle up and head over for some fun!

Nickel Plate Lights: The Nickel Plate Trail – specifically in downtown Fishers – is transformed with a festive display of holiday lights, décor, and photo opportunities throughout December.

Tubing at Koteewi State Park in Strawtown: From late December through February, Hit the slopes and see if you can hang on for the 700+ foot long ride.

Christkindmarkt in Carmel: Four-time winner of the Best Holiday Market, come enjoy German food, beverages, shop for some gifts and test your ice-skating skills – there is something for everyone.

Merry Prairie Holiday at Conner Prairie: lights, food and fun abound through the grounds of Prairietown.

Checking out the map of Holiday Lights: The perfect end to an evening of activities around town is to tour the county and see residents do their best to rival National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Clark Griswold’s holiday lights setup!

This summer, I even managed to get my sister and her family to make the big move from Hawaii to Noblesville, and they’re adjusting to this “new winter experience” and taking in some of these activities too.

Don’t get me wrong, 75-80 degrees in December does sound quite nice, but the change of seasons, and fond memories created help get us in the holiday spirit!


Hamilton County Leadership Academy (HCLA) and Invest Hamilton County have launched a new community ambassador program. The partnership, called HAMILTON CONNECTION will highlight personal stories of HCLA alumni and allow those Connectors to help personalize the things that make Hamilton County a great place to live, work, learn and thrive. Meet the Hamilton Connectors HERE.