Celebrating on the lake


Millennium Park opens with three-day fest :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

photo courtesy of Scott McDonald / Hedrick Blessing This Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion is the centerpiece of Chicago's new 24.5-acre Millennium Park.

Millennium Park opens July 16 with a three-day celebration that Mayor Richard M. Daley says will highlight Chicago's "best summer ever."

"Millennium Park is much more than a park: It's a tribute to the vitality, strength and creativity of our great city. Every city in the world would love to have a park like this," Daley says.

The new 24.5-acre lakefront park was envisioned as a way to expand Grant Park while hiding the railroad tracks and parking lots that previously took up so much of the lakefront property. Construction began in June 1999.

The project was budgeted at $150 million but ultimately cost $475 million.

The grand opening begins July 16 with a concert by the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The concert will feature an original composition by American composer John Corigliano.

The weekend includes tours of the park every 30 minutes, a concert by award-winning children's entertainer Ella Jenkins and a multicultural parade featuring performers from city neighborhoods and an invitation to everyone to join in and march.

Other opening events include tai chi and yoga at sunrise; "Reflecting Chicago," a concert showcasing Chicago's music scene, and a three-ring circus.

The Frank Gehry-designed pavilion-which the park's Web site calls the "most sophisticated outdoor concert venue of its kind in the United States"-is just one of the architectural features of the new park.

The park also is home to the world's largest outdoor sculpture by British artist Anish Kapoor; Lurie Garden, designed by Kathryn Gustafson, Piet Oudolf and Robert Israel; and the Crown Fountain, designed by Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa. The $17 million fountain, which the artist says he designed to be the "soul of the park," consists of two 50-foot-tall video screens that flash the faces of more than 1,000 Chicago residents during a 13-minute slide show playing behind a cascade of water.

Chicago's Millennium Park is on Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Monroe streets. For a full schedule of weekend events, including circus performers, children's concerts and a parade, visit www.millenniumpark.org.

Chris Mazzolini, Medill News Service



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