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'Parks After Dark' turning local recreation centers into summer festivals

This 7-week pilot program in City Heights, Linda Vista, and Skyline is focused on 'taking back' San Diego's parks in a positive way for all community members.

SAN DIEGO — "Parks After Dark" a program which launched earlier this summer, transforms three neighborhood parks into evening community festivals every weekend.

So far, hundreds of San Diegans have been taking part every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The program, part of Mayor Todd Gloria's "Come Play Outside" initiative, is held at the City Heights, Linda Vista and Skyline Hills Recreation Centers from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. from July 14 through Aug. 27. 

The events feature live entertainment, activities for all ages, games and free meals for kids.

"We're so grateful to our partners at the county, Parks Foundation and Price Philanthropies for making three of our popular neighborhood parks centers of fun and community for families on summer nights," Gloria said. "These hosted nighttime activities will create lasting summer memories in a safe, healthy and fun environment."

The city received a $500,000 grant from the county to begin the program.

This 7-week pilot program is all about taking back San Diego's parks in a positive way for all San Diegans.

"They are loving these events," said Nancy Maldonado of the San Diego Parks Foundation. "They are loving that they are able to here in their parks after dark."

"We hope to replicate this throughout the entire city of San Diego, and my hope is National City, Chula Vista can also see this model  and replicate it as well," said Rudy of Price Philanthropies, one of the supporters of Parks After Dark. 

"The county of San Diego is pleased to help support `Parks After Dark' that provides a wide range of enjoyable, supervised activities and safe services to our neighborhood children and adults," said Nathan Fletcher, chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. "The county is supporting programs that improve youth mental health -- and being able to enjoy our parks is one way to do that."

The program is based on a Los Angeles County program run every summer for more than a decade. 

According to data provided by the San Diego Parks Foundation, the first three parks to host similar programs in Los Angeles saw a 32% decrease in serious and violent crimes within their first three years, between 2009 and 2013.

"This program builds on the success of last year's 'Come Play Outside' programs and will give folks of all ages something to celebrate in their community this summer," said Michel Anderson, Parks Foundation Board Chair.

For more information on Park After Dark, and the schedule for the rest of the summer, click here.

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