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Free Plays, Movie Screenings, More Coming to Chicago Parks This Summer

 Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the return of "Night Out in the Parks" at the Douglas Park field house Thursday.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the return of "Night Out in the Parks" at the Douglas Park field house Thursday.
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DNAinfo/Erica Demarest

NORTH LAWNDALE — "Night Out in the Parks" is back for an encore.

The summer arts series made a strong debut last year when 200,000 people attended 750 citywide events, said Michael Kelly, CEO and superintendent of the Chicago Park District.

This year, Chicagoans can expect more than 1,000 cultural events — including plays, dance shows and movie screenings — at parks across the city. More than 90 percent of programming is free.

"Anyone got a lawn chair? Anyone got a blanket? That's it. You're in. That's the price of admission," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday as he spoke at a performance in the Douglas Park field house.

"I know the lawn chair, in the winter, was to save your parking space," the mayor said jokingly. "Clean it up! Because it's getting ready for summer."

Emanuel promised there'd be at least seven free events on any given night this summer.

The 2014 program focuses on Chicago's diverse neighborhoods, Kelly said. Fifty community arts and theater groups are performing.

"These types of events give families an opportunity to not only enjoy free quality programming," Kelly said, "but to also experience what the neighborhoods have — not just the neighborhood they're comfortable with, but neighborhoods all over Chicago."

Highlights include:

Movies in the Parks: Screenings across the city start June 12. Scheduled films include "The Goonies," "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," "Life of Pi" and "The Wizard of Oz."

So Fresh Saturdays: The Residents Association of Greater Englewood will offer workshops on entrepreneurship, hip-hop and youth. June 7 to Aug. 30.

Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks: The company performs "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in 18 parks across the city. July 20 to Aug. 17.

About Face Theatre: Performers explore gender, sexual identity and politics in "Checking Boxes: Immigration and Stories of Being Undocumented in the Queer Community." July 10 to Aug. 1.

Latin Jazz Festival: Latin performers from across the country gather in Humboldt Park July 18-19.

For a complete list of programming, visit the Park District website.

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