Soccer illustration by

With most summer camps closed, children’s playgrounds still locked, and many of the normal recreational programs delayed or cancelled, people of all ages have been making the best of it using the open green grass of our beautiful neighborhood parks.

Recent visits to Lake Shore Park in Streeterville and The Park at the New Eastside saw a wide variety of recreational activities. Some old, some new and some, well, I’m not quite sure how you would describe it.

Volleyball is one of the most popular. It seems like the bump, set and serve crowd has adapted well to their new space. Popular with the twenty-something crowd, both highly athletic two on two games as well as the much more traditional version of six vs. six can be seen in abundance.

SpikeBall is another game decorating the lush park greenery and also particularly popular with the twenty-something crowd. For the uninitiated, this game involves four players with partners hitting a small ball using an open hand off what can best be described as a mini ground-based trampoline. The rules? Haven’t a clue, but it sure looks like fun.

Soccer is thriving in the parks as well, ranging from mom and dad kicking the ball around with their kids, to mini-games, all the way up to a full field games with goals. I even saw some coaches directing traffic and instructing the kids.

Just off the grassy knoll, danger lies ahead. Youngsters aging in range from four or five to ten or eleven have mastered the art of scooters and bicycles and their steering accuracy can best be described as erratic. It is definitely “walker beware” if you are on these sidewalks.

Other activities include frisbee throwing (dogs much better at the catching part than humans), badminton and some old school games like hacky sack and whiffle ball—a relic from days gone past.

Not quite falling into the active sports category, but still quite prevalent at the parks is adult groups simply sitting and socializing. The art of picnicking has taken huge strides during our “summer without.” Groups of four to ten (never more than ten if any law enforcement people are reading this), are seen sitting with blankets and chairs and just enjoying each other’s company.

We have even seen impromptu birthday parties for kids, instead of inside, now outside at the park complete with balloons, cake and all the trappings.

Whatever the activity, there is no question that with normal summer programs cancelled, our local parks have been much busier with people of all ages just playing, relaxing and having fun.

Kudos to all of us. We have successfully adjusted and adapted. Not that we really had a choice.

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