HUMBOLDT PARK — Caroline O'Boyle, The 606's new Director of Programs and Partnerships, said she's hoping more "DIY Processions" will join next month's celebration of the elevated park system's first birthday.
"Who are the people on your block that you go up on the trail with? Bring your coworkers. Meet at the observatory. Wear goofy hats! Fly your own flags! Show your community spirit," O'Boyle said Wednesday while atop the Exelon Observatory at the western end of the 2.7-mile-long trail.
Since opening last June, The 606 trail and parks, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel described as a neighborhood unifier, have earned acclaim from the American Planning Association.
O'Boyle is employed by The Trust for Public Land — a private partner in the public-private partnership that oversees the 606, which runs from Bucktown and Wicker Park to the east and Logan Square and Humboldt Park to the west.
The goal of O'Boyle's newly created role is to "support the continued development of partnerships and programming that make The 606 an ongoing community resource for its neighborhoods," a Trust for Public Land spokeswoman said.
O'Boyle said the trail, which currently serves more than 80,000 people (including approximately 20,000 children) within a quarter-mile radius, "brings out the best in people."
"Everyone seems very happy, relaxed and neighborly. There's something about being above the traffic that drops a sense of calm on people," O'Boyle said.
As of Wednesday, O'Boyle said the group has approximately $14 million left to raise toward the completion of The 606, down from a $20 million estimate last June.
"We are grateful for our donors, who have supported the The Trust for Public Land with gifts from $5 to $5 million," she said.
That $14 million will include continued funding for arts and education programming and demolishing the former Magid Glove factory to build a 4-acre park behind the Exelon observatory, as well as conducting environmental remediation at a forthcoming park on Kimball Avenue, she said.
O'Boyle, who lives in East Garfield Park, previously worked as the executive director of Noble Square's Free Street Theater. She was brought aboard in April after serving as a creative consultant who helped plan The 606's opening day festivities last June.
Over the past year, O'Boyle organized monthly astronomy nights led by The 606's resident astronomer, Joe Guzman, morning coffee and artist pop-ups and helped to get "bike ambassadors" onto the trail, among other endeavors.
O'Boyle cited a partnership with West Town Bikes as an example of using existing talent to avoid inventing programs that duplicate what's already happening naturally on the 606.
For the anniversary party on June 6, O'Boyle said she is aiming to help facilitate "a giant showcase of community-based assets that have an attraction for people citywide" such as music, theater and dance groups who are headquartered near the 606 and are participating in the bash.
"It is such a pleasure to work with so many vibrant members of the community who own this place," she said.
To donate or learn more, visit The606.org
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