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Chicago parks bloom with free activities for boomers and families

The stage is empty now, but we can't forget the energy!
Barbara Payne

I had a chance last night to attend a dynamic, professional theatrical performance - Shakespeare in a Chicago park. For free. Well-known David H. Bell put his talents to work on a modernized version of the Bard's Comedy of Errors. It was part of Chicago's NightOutintheParks program, and 500 people sat mesmerized by the energy and passion the actors put out. Kids and adults alike laughed uproariously at the slapstick routines and fabulous acrobatics on stage. All free.

Some of us boomers got up a small group and trekked our way to Welles Park to join hundreds of others gathered to enjoy a picnic in the park while we waited for the entertainment. Strains of La Cucaracha came from the stage, where students of all ages from Old Town School of Folk Music played and sang their hearts out. Apparently this "green band" was a tradition in Shakespeare's time, too, when minstrels would play on the green in front of the stage before the production began.

It was a perfect August night - not too warm or humid. And despite the large attendance, it wasn't overwhelmingly crowded. But it's a good idea to get there early to stake your spot. Bring a blanket and/or a folding chair and some snacks if you like.

As if that's not enough, you can also enjoy performances of Circus in the Parks. And into September you can still kick your heels up or just enjoy the music with SummerDance in the Parks. Check out the rest of the fun in the Chicago parks here.

What a great way to not only make our city parks safer but also make them a haven of culture and class for citizens who might not be able to afford to enjoy such gifts in a paid setting. Bravo! You go, Rahm!

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