The Hoosierist: Green With Envy

Fire hydrant colors, barbecuing in parking lots, and hostels. Ask The Hoosierist.
Illustration by Shane Harrison

Q: Why are Indy fire hydrants painted seafoam green?
Carol T., Indianapolis  
A: That minty green, roughly the same shade as countless Florida timeshare condos, is a high-visibility color selected by Citizens Energy Group for the 20,000 hydrants it maintains in Marion County. But our seafoam fetish is far from universal. Noblesville’s hydrants are yellow, and Westfield’s are red. Privately installed units in Indy are also red—perhaps to warn firefighters to avoid them. “We’ll use a hydrant on a street coming into a complex before we’ll depend on a red hydrant,” says Indianapolis Fire Department public information officer Captain Rita Reith. “We’ve been in complexes where the private hydrants weren’t even attached to the water line. They were just there for show.”
Q: Does Indy have a hostel? 
Alan C., Indianapolis  
A: For those accustomed to finer living, a hostel is an ultra-low-cost hotel where twentysomethings touring the world can find cheap lodging and occasionally be kidnapped by sadistic Eastern European mobsters. Oh wait, that was a movie. Anyway, we do indeed have one—the appropriately named Indy Hostel. Nestled in SoBro (where else?), it allows guests to bunk together in dormitory-style rooms and avail themselves of a community kitchen and bathrooms. All for the rock-bottom price of $34 per night. If money’s really tight, guests can pitch a tent in the hostel’s backyard for just $22. On the flipside, if you need a sanctuary from the incessant guitar-strumming, Hacky-Sacking, and earnest political discussions, you can rent a private room for as little as $67 per night. While a guest can indeed be the stereotypical globetrotting free spirit in his 20s, the place gets a fair number of business travelers. “People think it’s a youth hostel, but it’s not,” says one staffer. “It’s an everybody hostel.”
Q: Do barbecue joints need board of health clearance to set up grills in their parking lots (where the flies, stray dogs, and hobos live)? 
Rita I., Indianapolis
A: The Hoosierist was happy to learn that the city doesn’t bust the (hickory-smoked) chops of eateries like Speedway’s Barbecue and Bourbon that park their (pork) butts outdoors. The Marion County Health Department says it doesn’t have any rules governing the practice. If your grill passes inspection, you’re good to go. The Hoosierist’s dad never cleaned his grill—even after he discovered that an opossum had lived in it over the winter. Stuff like that just gives your food character. And maybe a touch of distemper.

The Hoosierstat

Degrees between the hottest and coldest days ever in Indiana:
Only old-timers will remember our most sizzling high (116 Fahrenheit on July 14, 1936, in Collegeville), but plenty recall the state’s record low (-36 Fahrenheit on January 19, 1994, in New Whiteland). Still, it could be worse—Alaska’s temperature swing is 180 degrees. Oh, to be Hawaii, though, at just 88.
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Illustration by Shane Harrison

This article appeared in the August 2014 issue.