WICKER PARK — From providing plastic "doggie pools" in the summertime to replacing torn fences and pouring new gravel, maintaining a dog park isn't an easy or cheap feat, though most Wicker Park dog park users are unaware that it is run by volunteers.
"After you build a dog park, now what? It's a continual effort. ... If there's not a constant flow of someone maintaining it, it will get dirty and shut down," said Adam Housley, chair of the Wicker Park dog park.
The Wicker Park Dog Park Committee is hosting its biggest fundraiser of the year from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday at Twisted Spoke, 501 N. Grand Ave. in West Town.
"Because the area is so fluid with people moving in and out, we don't always get a ton of people that moved here [at the party]. They don't get the concept of what's going on. I try to get out and talk to them," Housley said.
Though admission to the fundraiser is free, the dog park plans to raise money by selling pints of Green Line beer for $6 each, thanks to a donated keg from Goose Island Brewery.
Also, nearly 30 silent auction items have been donated to the party from several local shops, restaurants, artists and dog-focused businesses.
In the last year, Housley said he's used donations to replace almost $2,000 worth of fencing, as well as purchase benches, gravel, shovels, brooms, wheelbarrows, locks and dog pools, the latter which the park "goes through all the time."
Even a sign inside the dog park that displays neighborhood information has been paid for with volunteer-raised funds, Housley said.
"In summertime, it's like a concert going on in there, sometimes with more people than dogs, many people drive to it," Housley said of the dog park, at 1425 N. Damen Ave., on the far southern end of the park.
While the park attracts hundreds of people and their dogs daily in the summer months, even in freezing weather it's still a popular spot for pooches and their owners.
Though past fundraisers have made about $2,000, Housley said the volunteer group is "always hoping to raise as much as possible," and members "don't have a goal" in mind for Saturday's party.
A few weeks ago, the park's storage shed suffered damage when the door was vandalized.
Vandals did not manage to break all the way into the shed, though if they had they would have found "a wheelbarrow, dirty brooms and shovels," Housley said.