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Circus, ‘Night Out’ parks programs get boost from NATO funds

Updated: February 8, 2013 6:20AM

A major expansion of the popular Circus in the Parks program, as well as a new “Night Out in the Parks” series, a boost to programming at the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, and new lights, turf and other amenities at neighborhood parks are the result of an additional $2 million investment of NATO Summit legacy funds in the city’s parks, the mayor’s office announced on Sunday.

The $2 million in funding announced on Sunday includes $1.7 million to build a new park playground in North Lawndale at the Frazier schools, as well as improve existing parks in several communities with upgrades to include new lights, turf, and other amenities, a release from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office said. Additionally, $300,000 will be used to boost neighborhood cultural programming at the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, and the Circus in the Parks program.

As part of the City’s Cultural Plan, the Park District’s new “Night Out in the Parks” series — coming this summer — will feature a major expansion of the popular Circus in the Parks program. The number of performances of Circus in the Parks will be doubled and the program will be extended to new parks and new audiences, the release said. The Circus in the Parks program was expecetd to now reach more than 20,000 people, according to the mayor’s office. This expansion will include Friday night performances and extend the overall season of the circus.

Federal funds and private funds raised by the 2012 NATO Summit host committee were used to pay for the costs associated with hosting the summit, and those costs came in under budget. The remaining private funds are being used in Chicago’s communities. In addition to the $2 million in investments announced Sunday, the mayor has already announced that $9 million in NATO Summit legacy funds will go toward a number of other community programs and park investments.

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