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THE 606 — Though gray skies and a spate of rain may have tamped down overall numbers, warm air and high cheer coaxed people out Saturday to toast the one-year anniversary of The 606 along the 2.7-mile-long Bloomingdale Trail.
Food stands of many flavors, games and crafts booths lined Humboldt Boulevard, while two stages book-ended the colorful parade. Beer flowed and music called people to the dance floor in front of the stages or up above, on the trail itself.
Above the party an eclectic stream of traffic ran unabated through Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Humboldt Park. The trail, which stays open year round, is a unique artery for commuters, recreationists, hobbyists, and people without any plans at all to enjoy the popular outdoor space.
Kids and adults watch the party celebrating the first year of the 606. [DNAinfo/Mark Schipper]
Last year, Chicago Police estimated 50,000 people turned out to be a part of the trail’s opening day ceremonies. The party was such a hit, an annual celebration of The 606 may become a new addition according to Caroline O’Boyle, the Director of Programs for The Trust For Public Land.
“Opening day was similar to this,” she said. “We heard from so many people, asking if we were going to do this again, saying it was the most fun they’ve ever had. Just look around, you see people of all ages, races, backgrounds. If you look at a lot of street fests in Chicago they are catering to one kind of crowd, maybe one demographic, but we have everyone here today, and everyday on the trail,” O’Boyle said.
The party on the trail reached into the night. [Adam Alexander Photography]
Built and landscaped from a decayed urban rail line, The 606 already has won a national award from the American Planning Association for building a park system that is “a stunning example of a community working to gather to realize a dream and create a city-wide attraction from under-used city infrastructure.”
The award fittingly reflected the initial intent of the park, O’Boyle said.
“We wanted to give all kinds of people in Chicago, the people who live next door to the trail and the people who live citywide, a place they could meet with their neighbors out in a public space, and that’s really happened. There’s such a spirit of happiness and joy, I think people just like being out and being seen, strolling around and meeting people,” said O’Boyle.
Saturday night ended with an illuminated procession, as crowds built make-shift glowing lamps and marched the trail into another year of service.
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