McKINLEY PARK —Often overlooked in favor of trendy, cutesy neighborhoods, McKinley Park has the amenities that city families crave, like CTA access and an enormous public park.
But do neighbors really know one another?
“It’s pockets and groups that know each other,” said Heather Breems, president of the McKinley Park Advisory Council, the group hosting the Jan. 26 “Skate and Greet” at the park’s ice rink, 2210 W. Pershing Road.
“Hopefully this event allows people to widen out their circles in the neighborhood,” she said.
The get-together also serves as away to raise awareness — and a few bucks — for the group’s push to expand the park's playground, which they say has become dangerously overcrowded.
The volunteer council needs to raise roughly one-third of the estimated cost — the ballpark it's in the hundreds of thousands — in order for the Chicago Park District to even begin considering the proposal, which includes replacing the playground equipment. Then, they'll have to persuade state or local leaders to put up the second-third of the cash.
For residents like Justin Kerr, 43, those park improvements would go a long way to highlight the neighborhood’s charm.
“McKinley Park is definitely a sleeper neighborhood, no doubt about it. It’s tucked away in this little corner and kind of sheltered by a lot of nearby neighborhoods," he said. "The park is neighborhood’s biggest asset. Hopefully, there can be even more stuff going on here."
The "Skate and Greet" event will feature DJs spinning tunes over the rink’s public address system, a bake sale, hot cocoa stand and donuts from Huck Finn Restaurant — with proceeds headed toward the fundraising effort.
Admission to the rink is free. The Chicago Park District charges $6 for skate rental.