Free Park Events In Your Neighborhood

June 17, 2024

Playgrounds and pickleball, dog parks and disc golf, ball diamonds and basketball…these attractions can be found in Palatine Park District’s 45 parks.  To help you discover these resources, don’t miss Pop-In & Play Neighborhood Nights and Sammy’s Summer Park Quest!

Palatine Park District is bringing the party to your park! Debuting this summer is Pop-In & Play Neighborhood Nights kicking off Thursday, June 20 at Hawthorne Park, 210 S. Brockway St. from 5:30-7:00pm. Families can walk to the park and enjoy free activities for the evening, including music, sports, games, crafts, and giveaways. Each night will be unique to fit the park’s offerings and surroundings. “We wanted to encourage families to get outside and enjoy some activities at a park in their neighborhood,” Lisa Schroeder, the District’s Special Interest Coordinator said. “We picked a park in each area of town.” Other park sites include Osage Park, 2076 N. Old Hicks Rd. on Wednesday, July 17, followed by Maple Park, 316 N. Winston Dr. on Thursday, August 15.

“Offering free events allows the community to come together, interact with one another, and create memories,” said Katie Waszak, Superintendent of Recreation Programming. “These events provide information and increase awareness of the many other things the Palatine Park District has to offer. These parks allow for recreational activities and social interactions. Most importantly, a neighborhood park provides a sense of community and connection for people who live around the park.”

Families are welcome to join the event and stay for as little or as long as they want. There will be a variety of games and each event will have a theme. “The first Pop In & Play is on the first official day of summer so the activities and crafts will be summer-theme based,” Schroeder said. “Bach to Rock will join us on a couple of the nights and provide music, and there will be giveaways the whole family can enjoy.”

The event is targeted to families and no registration is required. Events are weather dependent. Up to date information will be available on the District’s website at

And how do you find these venturous parks? Start your exploration at Sammy’s Summer Park Quest, with the help of Sammy himself, Palatine Park District’s resident squirrel mascot. Sammy’s Summer Park Quest takes place July 12 through July 14 during active park hours from sunrise to sundown.

Sammy will be scurrying around Palatine leaving clues at his favorite parks. Starting at the outdoor basketball hoop at Community Park, 262 E. Palatine Rd., find a picture of Sammy, scan the QR code and begin your quest. The QR codes provide a unique letter at each stop. At the end of all the stops, each team or family uses the letters to form one word. If you get that word correct, you are entered into a drawing to win a prize. Sammy is hidden in nine park locations.

According to Mark Dolphin, Athletics Manager at the Palatine Park District, “The idea for Sammy’s Summer Park Quest is to showcase our parks, playgrounds, and facilities to the Palatine residents,” he said. “Especially parks and playgrounds that have been renovated.” Sammy has been leading a Park Quest since 2020. “This event was born during the pandemic as a way to hold a special event within the Covid guidelines,” Dolphin said. “Due to its popularity, it has returned every summer.”

This year patrons can peruse the parks at a leisurely pace. “We are not doing the event as a one-day race around Palatine but rather a weekend-long event where people are able to explore at their leisure,” Dolphin said. “Also, this year people don’t have to complete all the stops if they don’t want to.” But If they do, participants will be rewarded with a coupon to a local ice cream shop, My Flavor It Place. Park Quest is open to anyone from couples to friends, families, and neighbors. There is no fee and no registration required to participate.

“Free events are important to offer to the community as it is a way to engage everyone,” Dolphin said.

Sammy’s Summer Park Quest is sponsored by Immanuel Lutheran School and My Flavor It Place, both located in Palatine.

And who doesn’t love free? “All these events will cost people is their time, and I hope this can foster a sense of community among attendees who may not be familiar with all the fabulous parks and programs we have around town,” Schroeder said.

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