Youth tennis phenom Amaliia Elizarova, right, speaks about her ideas for tennis programming and promotion for McKinley Park alonside her mother, Luba Elizarova, and sister, Serafima, at the June 10 meeting of the McKinley Park Advisory Council.

McKinley Park Advisory Council Meeting Plots Summer Events, New Park Programs

Published June 11, 2019

The McKinley Park Advisory Council pushed forward planning and coordination for a summer full of events in the park at its meeting on Monday, June 10, at the McKinley Park field house. Leading the events is the McKinley Park Farmers Market, now approaching its third weekend of the 2019 season.

New features at the market include, for the first time, two paid, part-time employees to help manage the significant work of running the market, managing vendors and promoting the weekly event. Stef Funk returns as a market manager after her volunteer support in past years, joined by market manager Joe Fujan, said council Secretary Katie Flores. 

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Flores noted that there are still some spaces available at the market for new vendors, specifically for bread, coffee and cheese. The council is also reaching out to food trucks to check on their availability to participate, Flores said. Spaces are also available for the Friends of the Market program, which lets businesses and organizations share their information and giveaways at a market booth.

Midnight Circus Returns

The extremely popular Midnight Circus returns to McKinley Park for a series of five shows over the weekend of August 30 to September 1. This includes a Friday night performance and noon and 3 p.m. shows on Saturday and Sunday, Flores said.

Midnight Circus returns to McKinley Park August 30 to September 1.

Once again, tickets will be significantly discounted to $5 each to make the show affordable for nearby residents, Flores said. Online ticket sales begin July 1, and tickets will also be available for purchase at the door, as available.

One of the best ways for local businesses to support McKinley Park and the advisory council is to take out an ad in the Midnight Circus ad book, said council President Veronica O'Malley. This has been a significant source of council funding in years past, she said, and it lets local enterprises place their information in front of the thousands of attendees who attend Midnight Circus across multiple parks.

Ad prices range from $50 for a quarter-page ad to $500 for the back cover of the Midnight Circus program, O'Malley said. Anyone who is interested in getting an ad can send email to for more information, as well get more info and submit an ad payment on the EventSprout web page for this event.

Tennis at the Park

No tennis program currently exists at McKinley Park, although the park's high-quality courts are enjoyed by many players. Tennis programming — especially for kids — might come to the park, thanks to the efforts of young leaders like 10-year-old tennis phenom Amaliia Elizarova, who attended the council meeting as a 2019 ambassador for the United States Tennis Association.

Elizarova, accompanied by her sister, Serafima, and mother, Luba Elizarova, presented ideas on programs and promotions to get more people involved in tennis, especially kids. This could include a special event such as a Kids Tennis Day, a tennis-ball billboard on the chain-link fence surrounding a tennis court, or addition of kids tennis programs, Elizarova said.

Badminton Donation

The badminton club that regularly plays in the auditorium of the McKinley Park field house is making a $1,500 donation to the council to support park needs, said club representative Jim Spears. These funds will go directly to the council in order for them to be applied locally within McKinley Park, he said.

Flores said that funding like this is especially useful to directly support the specific needs of the park, including the "very long list" identified by park Supervisor Briana Soria, Flores said. For example, a set of walkie talkie radios for park employees would be incredibly useful for supporting communications and safety for park events and public swimming sessions at the park pool, she said.

A Summer's Worth of Events

The council also touched on the many other upcoming park events coming up this summer, including the Chicago Audubon Society's Sunday Bird Walks on July 14, August 11 and September 8; Make Music Chicago on Friday, June 21; Jesse De La Pena's Blue Groove Summer Sessions on Sunday, June 23; the stewardship and "Get to Know Your Lagoon" ecology class on Saturday, July 27; Befriend a Bug on Tuesday, August 6; the Exit Zero movie screening on Monday, August 26; and the upcoming park stewardship days on June 22, July 27, August 24, September 28 and October 26.

The Rollin' Rec program will also be coming to Hoyne Park on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon from July 2 through August 8. 

The next McKinley Park Advisory Council Meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, July 8, in the McKinley Park field house.

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