Frequently Asked Questions

Advisory Councils

Dog Friendly Area (DFA)

Chicago Park District Online Program Registration

Special Events

Permits

 

What is an Advisory Council?
An advisory council is a voluntary group of individuals who meet on a regular basis to support the effective functioning of the park. A council works with the park supervisor and other Chicago Park District staff, advising them on the needs and concerns of the community and making recommendations and suggestions regarding its respective park.

What do Advisory Councils do?
Advisory councils promote ways for the community to better utilize the Chicago Park District's programs and facilities; provide communication to the Chicago Park District on matters relating to their parks; increase community awareness of Chicago Park District projects; provide the community with a vehicle through which park information can be shared; and assist in locating alternate funding sources to enhance park facilities.

What is the time commitment?
The Chicago Park District asks that councils meet at least once annually. Many councils either meet monthly or quarterly; meetings on average last about 1 to 1 ½ hours. In addition to meetings, some councils sponsor fundraising events and other activities that require additional time commitment.

How many people make up the group?
A minimum of three (3) members are required. However a larger number of members is encouraged so there is a greater representation from the community. Depending on the size of the park, ideally councils would have 10 -15 members.

How are Advisory Councils run?
Advisory councils are separate and independent entities from the Chicago Park District. The officers of the council have the responsibility of monitoring the actions and activities of their park advisory council.

What are the benefits of Advisory Councils?

  • recognition as an organization that can effectively relate your community's goals and visions for its park to the Chicago Park District
  • appropriate space (where/when available) for advisory council meetings at local parks
  • a mailbox at the local park
  • events featured on the Chicago Park District website (see form below for submitting event information)
  • invitation to the annual Advisory Council Appreciation Day event

How do I join an existing Advisory Council?
Contact your local park supervisor and/or the advisory council president. Click here to view a list of advisory council presidents.

How do I start a new Advisory Council for a park that doesn't currently have one?
Contact the park and ask for the park supervisor or area manager and schedule a date and time for the initial meeting. This meeting should be held at the park, or if no park space is available, at the nearest public facility. The park staff will post a notice of the initial meeting and work with you to notify the community of the intent to form a new park advisory council.

 

What is the permit and tag fee?
The permit and tag fee is a total of $5.00

How long is a permit and tag good for?
Any permit and registration tag will be valid only for a single season no matter when purchased. A single season is defined as the period running from January 1st of any year through December 31st of the same year.

Will there be a sliding scale for seniors or visitors?
There will not be a sliding scale. Visitors must follow the same procedures for obtaining a permit and tag.

Where can I get a permit and tag?
Permits and tags will only be available at participating Chicagoland veterinary offices. If you are an out-of-state resident you must also contact one of the participating Chicagoland veterinary offices to determine what paperwork is necessary to obtain the permit and tag. Most of these veterinarians will help those whose own vets are not participating. You should call them first to confirm that they will assist you and to determine how much they charge for an office visit.

When can I get a permit and tag?
Permits and tags will be available at participating Chicago veterinary offices beginning February 1st, 2006.

Will there be visitor or day passes?
There are no visitor or day passes. Any visitor wishing to bring their pet to a Chicago Park District Dog Friendly Area must follow the same procedures for obtaining a permit and tag.

What are the permit requirements?
Pursuant to regulations under the new Cook County Ordinance, dog owners must show proof of:

  1. Current dog license issued by the City of Chicago, or proof that the dog has a current rabies vaccination.
  2. Examination within the past year for any communicable diseases including an examination of a stool specimen for internal parasites.
  3. Current vaccination or titer if possible for Distemper, Hepatitis, Para-influenza, Parvovirus, and Bordatella (kennel cough) unless an exemption to this requirement has been granted by the Administrator upon the written recommendation from the Owner’s veterinarian.

Who will enforce the rules and regulations?
The Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control will enforce DFA rules and regulations and issue tickets to violators. Violators, along with the Chicago Park District, will face a possible fine of $500. Dog owners must carry their permits at all times when attending DFAs. Each DFA will have a sign posted at the entrance stating all DFA rules and regulations.

What happens if I lose my permit or tag?
If a patron loses their dog tag or permit, they must reapply for a permit and tag for a $5.00 fee with a participating Chicagoland veterinarian.

Why do I need a permit and tag for my dog to enter a DFA?
Pursuant to a regulation issued by the Administrator of the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control, all dogs entering a DFA must have a permit and registration tag from a licensed veterinarian. People bring dogs into a Chicago Park District DFA must have both a permit with them and a registration tag for each dog. The registration tag must be on the dog’s collar or harness. The permit and registration tag may be used at any officially sanctioned Chicago Park District DFA.

 

What steps are involved with completing my registration online with the Chicago Park District?
Click here for a brief review of the Chicago Park District and PayPal screens you will access when registering online. PLEASE REVIEW THESE SCREENS BEFORE THE FIRST DAY OF ONLINE REGISTRATION.

Is there a time limit for completing my order?
Yes. After you have selected your programs and entered the program participants' names, you will be connected to a screen where you need to add your contact information. At this screen you can review the programs you have in your Cart. Note: At this point, you have reserved the spots you have in your cart. You have 30 minutes to confirm everything is accurate on this page before you lose the spots and they go back into inventory. If everything is correct, you will click on the “Proceed to Payment” button to be connected to PayPal. Once in the PayPal screens you have additional time. To review these screens, click here.

Do I need a PayPal account to pay for Park District programs?
No. You can use your credit card to pay for these programs with PayPal without having to setup a PayPal account. The following credit cards are accepted by PayPal: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express.
Please note that PayPal does require the Credit Card Security Code (CSC), the three digit number located on the back of your credit card, or for American Express, the 4 digit number on the upper right hand corner of the front of your credit card.
If you plan to set up a PayPal account, you may want to consider setting it up prior to registration. Click here to set up a PayPal account now.

Is payment required for all programs?
Yes. An online transaction fee of $2.00 is added to every order. This means that if you register for a free program, your transaction total will be $2.00. This fee is charged per transaction, not program. So, if you sign up for one program or five programs, you will only be charged $2.00 for the transaction fee. If you prefer not to pay the online transaction fee, please remember that for most programs you also have the option to register in person at the park. When registering in person, please have exact change for your program fees, parks do not have change.

What are the benefits of using PayPal?
PayPal is an industry leader for accepting online payments. It is a safe and easy way to authorize payments to the Chicago Park District and thousands of other online vendors without exposing your financial information to the vendor. PayPal offers 100% protection from unauthorized payments and your account is monitored 24/7 to prevent fraud. With PayPal facilitating the payment process for the Chicago Park District, you will know right away if there are any issues with the credit card information you enter, as well as an almost immediate email confirmation of payment. PayPal also offers you more payment options. You can simply pay using your credit card, or you can set up a PayPal account. With a PayPal account, you will have the option to pay with either a bank account or credit card.

How does the wishlist work?
The Park District encourages everyone to create a wishlist and save the program(s) for which you want to register. Please note that you are saving only the program in your wishlist, not actual slots in the program. When you are ready to register and you click on the program from your wishlist, at that time you can order multiple slots in the program by entering multiple names. Creating your wishlist prior to the first day of online registration will save you time on that first day, which gives you a better chance of getting a spot before they fill up.

Can I register my friends’ or family members’ children?
Yes, but you must know the full name of each participant in order to register them online. Registrations are not transferable, so it is important that you provide the correct name when registering. Also, please note that there is a chance that the transaction may fail or time out (only 30 minutes allotted) before any children are registered, so you are doing this at your own risk.

How will I be informed that my transaction was successful?
You will receive two email confirmations for your transaction. One will be a Receipt for Payment from PayPal (from service@paypal.com). The other will be an Online Registration Receipt from the Chicago Park District (from play@chicagoparkdistrict.com). If you are using a spam filter, please set it to allow email from both of these addresses.
The PayPal email will confirm that the transaction completed successfully. You should receive this email almost immediately after you completed your order. The Chicago Park District email will provide a link for you to access your Online Registration Receipt. You should receive this email approximately 6 hours after your payment was successfully completed with PayPal. The Chicago Park District Online Registration Receipt lists information on the programs you registered for (program name, park name, dates, times, cost, etc.). You are required to present a hard copy of this receipt to the park where the program is being held no later than two weeks prior to the first day of the program.

After registering online, what do I need to do to follow-up in person at the park?
Look for your Receipt for your Payment email from PayPal and your Online Registration Receipt email from the Chicago Park District. Print out a hard copy of the Chicago Park District Online Registration Receipt and present that (along with proof of age and residency) to the park where the program is being held no later than two weeks prior to the first day of the program. At that time you will also be required to fill out a Participant Information/Emergency Form for each participant. If you would like to complete the Emergency Form in advance, please click here to view and download a copy.

What will I need for Proof of Age and Residency?
Certain programs require proof of age and/or residency. Please present valid identification such as a driver’s license, state ID or birth certificate for proof of age. Patron must be the appropriate age prior to the first day of class. Please present valid identification such as a driver’s license, state ID or city utility bill for proof of residency. These items should be brought to the park where the program is being held no later than two weeks prior to the first day of the program. Whether you register in person at the park or online, you must provide this information prior to the program start date. Note: All fees are doubled for non-Chicago residents. If registering online, the additional fee must be paid at the park, prior to the start of class.

What is the Refund and Cancellation Policy?
A 15% service charge will be deducted from all refunds and cancellations. This includes duplicate and accidental registrations. All refund requests must be made in-person at the park where the program is being held, at least two weeks before the program’s scheduled start date. The Chicago Park District program receipt is required for a refund to be processed. No refund requests will be accepted after the two week point. Please allow up to six weeks for your refund to be processed.

 

If I am interested in hosting an event at one of the Chicago Park District's Special Event Venues, what is the process of booking a venue for my event?
First, choose which facilities you are interested in. You can begin finding information by visiting our Special Event Venues homepage. Once you have decided which spaces you are interested in, you can call the appropriate contact for availability. To secure a date and location, you will need to submit the Special Event Venue Application and a non-refundable Reservation Fee of 50% of the appropriate rental fee and a $35 Processing/Application Fee. You will be required to sign a contract. The remaining fees are due 6 months prior to your date, and the necessary documentation (insurance documents, site plan, timeline of event, etc.) must be provided to the Park District designee at least 30 days prior to the event. You will be required to provide the Chicago Park District designee with the final guest count at least 14 days prior.

I have seen couples getting married in the park. How can I have my Wedding Ceremony at one of the Park District locations?

If you are interested in having a ceremony in one of our outdoor garden spaces or on our beaches, you need to apply for a Commemorative Permit (Special Event Application). Our most popular locations for wedding ceremonies are: the Lincoln Park Conservatory Gardens, the Grant Park North Rose Gardens, the new Tiffany & Co. Foundation Celebration Garden, and the Cancer Survivor's Garden. Applications for wedding ceremonies at any other locations along the Lakefront will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

There are four different levels of Commemorative Permit for our gardens. Levels 3 & 4 are specifically for the Tiffany Celebration Garden; Levels 1 & 2 are for all other gardens and beaches. Level 1 allows you two hours (including set-up and tear-down), and it allows you bring in chairs and a trellis. Level 2 allows you four hours (including set-up and tear-down), and it allows you to have amplified sound, a small tent (15x15’ or smaller) and risers in addition to chairs and a trellis, if desired. However, we require Liability Insurance with Level 2. More information including the fees can be found in the Special Event Application.

For the Tiffany Garden, Level 3 allows you two hours (including set-up and tear-down), and Level 4 allows you four hours (including set-up and tear-down). Event features allowed for both Levels 3 & 4 are chairs, 1 trellis, amplified sound, a small tent (15’x15’ or smaller) and risers, but no food or beverage is allowed. General Liability Insurance is required for both levels.

We do not give out availability for Commemorative Events; applications are processed in the order received, and you will be contacted within 14 days regarding if your time/date/location is available and what fees/documents/etc are required in order to secure a permit.

We only accept applications for Commemorative Permits starting in January of the year of your event, so, for example, 2011 applications will not be accepted until January 2011.

Commemorative Permits are a rain or shine policy, and no food or beverage is allowed.

For my event, can I choose any caterer I want, or do you have a list I must choose from?
We have an exclusive vendor list for you to choose from for your event. For more information, please visit our Preferred Professional Listing. You should feel free to contact any of them individually with any questions you may have.

What are your requirements for tenting, and how do I go about finding a tent provider?
All tenting needs to be contracted through our Preferred Professionals, and you should feel free to contact them with questions or to get a proposal. In most cases, if you are interesting in having tent or canopies set-up at a Special Event Venue or the surrounding area, the Park District will need to perform a "locate" to identify any and all underground electrical and plumbing lines. Therefore, we will need to know the exact location and dimensions of each tent. Please note that any tent or canopy over 240 square feet will require a building permit from the City of Chicago Department of Construction and Permits (DCAP): (312) 744-3449. The rental companies should be able to answer any questions you may have regarding the process for securing any required building permits.

Am I permitted to serve alcohol at my event?
Yes, alcohol service is allowed at our Special Event Venues (except at Commemorative Events). As the host of the event, you will NOT be permitted to provide the alcohol. Alcohol must be purchased through and served by one of the caterers on our exclusive list. If your event is a fundraiser in nature, and your alcohol will be donated, you will be required to provide documentation that validates your organization's non-profit 501(c)3 status and provide a copy of a Special Event Liquor License from the City of Chicago. For more information on these policies, please contact our office: (312) 742-4847.

What are your insurance requirements and how can I obtain the necessary certificate?
When renting one of our facilities, we require that you obtain a Certificate of General Liability Insurance naming the Chicago Park District as "Additional Insured” and the endorsement issued by the Insurance Carrier. If you intend on serving alcohol, you must have Host Liquor Liability as well. We require that each of the certificates carry a minimum of $1,000,000 coverage. You may obtain this insurance from any insurance company of your choosing, or contact us for a recommendation.

Do you require a Security Deposit, and if so how much will it be? When can I expect to receive my deposit back?
We require that you pay a Security Deposit to cover any possible damage and to insure that the Park District policies and procedures are being adhered to. The Security Deposit is due no later than six months prior to the event and can range from $500-$2,000 depending on the size, nature, and location of the event. The Security Deposit will be retuned approximately 30 business days after your event via check as long as all the rules and regulations have been followed, and there is no property damage. Violations which will result in partial or entire withholding of you Security Deposit includes but not limited to: deliveries/pick-ups occurring outside of reservation time, entering/exiting outside of reservation time, and unauthorized vehicles on-site and/or on the grass. Please note that the Reservation Deposit/Fee (to secure the space) and the Security Deposit (to cover any possible damages) are not the same.

How can I ensure that my event remains private? Do I need to hire security officers?
We require each event to hire security to ensure privacy and safety. Our offices will determine the number of security officers you will need based on the size, nature, and location of the event. In most cases, the Chicago Park District Designee will arrange Chicago Park District Officers at a rate of $29/hour (four hour minimum). If you are approved to contract another security company, the firm must be licensed and bonded.

What time does my event have to end? Is there an additional fee to remain in the park later than 11:00pm?
All Chicago Park District property closes at 11:00pm every day. It is a requirement that every event conclude at this time.

If I have equipment or certain materials that need to be dropped off for the event, how will I be able to access the park?
Parking or driving vehicles on grass or athletic fields is strictly prohibited. If event staff and supply vehicles need to be driven to the site to unload equipment or supplies, the Park District may consider granting a Park District Vehicle Pass so that vehicles may access service roads, subject to Park District approval. If you feel this privilege is necessary for your event, please contact the event facilitator. The Park District will need prior notice of the number and type of vehicles you request permission to operate on Park District Property.

Do Chicago Park District and City of Chicago the same policies and procedures for their venues?
No. Although the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago are both government agencies, they are different organizations with different policies and procedures. The following venues are NOT under the jurisdiction of the Park District, so their policies and procedures do not apply to the Chicago Park District Special Event Venues: Chicago Cultural Center, Maxim’s, Millennium Park, Harold Washington Library.

 

How do I know if I need a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit for my event?
Any event on park property is subject to the approval of the Chicago Park District. Certain activities that require a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit include the following:

  • events with 50 or more participants
  • use of amplified sound
  • any advertising or sponsorship activities
  • selling/distributing any food, goods, or merchandise
  • liquor
  • tents
  • inflatables
  • stages

Please keep in mind that there are other activities or proposed event features that may require you to secure a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit. If you are planning any event in the parks along the Lakefront, you are encouraged to consult the Department of Park Services - Permits Division: (312) 742 - 5369.

What if groups or individuals are using the park space that I am permitted for when I arrive on my event date?
Make sure that you have your Chicago Park District Special Event Permit on hand. This permit shows that you have exclusive rights to the space for the stated time and date. If you have any problems, please contact Chicago Park District Security (312) 747-2193.

What are the Park District’s insurance requirements and how can I obtain the necessary insurance?
Applicants must submit two documents to satisfy insurance requirements. A (1) “Certificate of Insurance in the amount of $1,000.000.00 worth of General Liability coverage that names the Chicago Park District as additional insured” must be submitted for the event and the date(s) of all set-up and tear-down for such event occurring on Chicago Park District property. Applicants must also submit an (2) Endorsement issued under their General Liability policy of insurance for the event that reflects that the Chicago Park District is an additional insured for the event. Also, the Park District may require additional insurance coverage for certain types of activities.

Your permit will not be issued if both the Certificate of Insurance and the Endorsement have not been received and approved 48 hours prior to an event.

Is alcohol allowed at my event if I get a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit?
No alcoholic beverages shall be sold, brought within, given away, delivered, or consumed on park property, except pursuant to Group 4, Athletic 4 or higher, Corporate 1 or higher, or Festival/Concert Special Event Permits. Additionally, the City of Chicago requires a special event liquor license for any alcoholic beverage service. For more information, please call the Mayor’s Office of Special Events: (312) 744–3315.

Can I reserve athletic areas such as softball fields with a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit?
Athletic areas such as softball and baseball fields, soccer fields, and tennis courts can only be reserved with a separate Athletic Field Permit. For more information please contact the park where you are interested in reserving athletic space.

What restroom facilities are available for my event? Am I required to obtain portable toilets for my event?
Public toilets in the parks are open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Group Level 3 and all Athletic, Corporate, and Festival/Concert Chicago Park District Special Event Permits must provide portable toilets for their participants. Location of portable toilets is subject to Park District approval.

Once I get a Chicago Park District Special Event Permit, how can I get equipment to my site?
Parking or driving vehicles on grass or athletic fields is strictly prohibited. If staff and supply vehicles need to be driven to the site to unload equipment or supplies, the Park District may consider granting a Park District Vehicle Pass so that the vehicles may access service roads, subject to Park District approval.

Can I reserve parking spaces for my event?
Parking provisions are not included in the issuance of any Chicago Park District Special Event Permit. However, public parking is available at parking lots and designated street parking throughout the parks. For more information on parking lots at lakefront parks, please consult our maps for Jackson Park, Grant Park, and Lincoln Park.

Can I have music, a DJ, or live music performance at my event?
Group 3 or higher, Athletic 1 or higher and all Corporate level events allow for amplified sound. Amplified sound can be added to Group Levels 1 and 2 at a cost of $150. All requests for amplified sound must be approved by the Park District. Amplified sound must be directed away from residences and must comply with section 11-4-2800 through 11-4-2920 of the Chicago Municipal Code. The proposed location of the sound system, direction of sound and location of all speakers must be identified on your Site Map.

Does the Park District provide tables, chairs, benches, tents, sound systems, or any other equipment with a Special Event Permit?
The Park District does not supply such equipment. Chicago Park District Special Event Permit applicants are responsible for securing any and all event-related supplies or equipment.

May I grill in the parks?
Grilling must be confined to enclosed metal containers and may only take place within dedicated grilling areas. Hot coals must be doused with water, and ashes and coals must be properly disposed of in red used-coal receptacles. For more information, contact the applicable region office.

I want to have tents and/or canopies at my event. Is that allowed?
With the exception of Commemorative Level 1 events, all other Chicago Park District Special Event Permits allow tents and canopies. Please refer to the Fee Schedule on page 10 of the Application for additional information regarding tent sizes within each special event permit level. Any tent or canopy larger than 240 square feet (Athletic Level 4 or higher and Corporate level events only) requires an approved building permit from the City of Chicago Department of Building (DOB). For more information, please contact DOB at (312) 744-3449 or the Mayor's Office of Special Events at (312) 744-3315. Placement of all tents and canopies is subject to Park District Approval.

Do I need to clean up after my event, or will the Park District provide maintenance and clean-up services?
The Park District is able to provide maintenance services for lakefront parks only. These services include: providing extra garbage cans, garbage can liners, recycling receptacles, and used-charcoal receptacles; picking-up litter left by event participants; and the collection and removal of all refuse from the site. In order to acquire these services, the applicant must complete a Lakefront Maintenance Services Application and submit payment before the event date. Securing an agreement for services is required for Group 3 and Athletic 2 or higher and Corporate Chicago Park District Special Event Permits. At the discretion of the Chicago Park District an outside maintenance vendor and maintenance plan may be required. Outside maintenance vendor and plan must meet the approval of the Chicago Park. All agreements for Park District Maintenance Services must be arranged at least 60 days prior to your event and payments must be submitted before the day of the event. For more information, please contact Park Services (312) 742 - 5369.

What if I need to cancel my event?
All cancellations must be made in writing to the Department of Park Services – Permits Division. Permit cancellations must be received no later than 90 days prior to the event for a full refund; however, the Park District will retain 15% of the rental fee. All application fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.

When will my security deposit be refunded?
Upon the conclusion of your event, Park District personnel will review the event. If it is determined that there has been no damage to Park District property or equipment beyond reasonable wear and tear, the security deposit shall be refunded in full within thirty (30) days of the conclusion of the permitted event.

If it rains or snows or there are other inclement weather conditions on the day of my event, can I be refunded for the event?
The Park District reserves the right to cancel or relocate an event due to poor weather and/or turf conditions prior to or on the day of the event that may cause excessive damage to Park District property. Chicago Park District Special Event Permits are non-transferable. No rain dates will be issued. Refunds will not be granted for inclement weather.