Popular festivals, entertainment services to be cut

Two of Chicago’s popular summer music festivals will be downsized next year. Chicago officials say the Blues Fest and Jazz Fest will be reduced from four days to three and will have fewer stages. The changes are the result of spending cuts in the city’s 2

Two of Chicago’s popular summer music festivals will be downsized next year.

Chicago officials say the Blues Fest and Jazz Fest will be reduced from four days to three and will have fewer stages. The changes are the result of spending cuts in the city’s 2009 budget.

Other festivals being shortened by the city include the Holiday Sports Festival, the Viva Latin Music Festival and the Celtic Fest.

Megan McDonald of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events said the city can’t move forward with programs and festivals that cost the city more to operate than it generates in revenues.

McDonald said in addition to reducing the number of days, the size of the festivals will be condensed and operational changes made to cut costs further.

Also on the city budget chopping block is the Jumping Jack program. The inflatable that is used as part of kids’ entertainment at summer block club parties and other events will no longer be sponsored by the city. At a recent budget meeting with the Defender, Mayor Richard M. Daley and his staff explained that the $700,000 operational tab for running the giant jumping inflatable could no longer be picked up by the city, but, they said, a private company could run the program.

The city’s free trolley service may also be discontinued beginning next spring and summer. The popular transportation service provides rides to some of the city’s top tourist attractions, including the Museum Campus, Michigan Avenue and State Street for shopping, Lincoln Park Zoo and Navy Pier. The trolleys service the downtown Metra rail stations and make frequent stops along the main downtown thoroughfares.

At a cost of over $2 million, Daley said the city could no longer afford the service. Like the Jumping Jack, the mayor said trolley service could possibly be run by an outside company.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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