San Diego

San Diego's ‘Parks After Dark' Makes Safe Spaces for Evening Summer Fun

NBC Universal, Inc.

San Diego is taking back its parks with weeks of planned events full of fun for the entire family.

Thursday evening at Highland and Landis Park in City Heights, children jumped in bounce houses, took art lessons and even learned to dance. The event is part of a seven-week pilot program meant for families and kids to enjoy the parks they usually stay away from after dark.

"We are always looking for fun things to do with the kids that are family-friendly and it's local so it's great," City Heights resident Tiffany Smith said.

The all-age, free, family event was put on by the city of San Diego and happened simultaneously at parks in Skyline Hills and Linda Vista.

"This summer, we were anticipating a rise in crime in our communities and, really, we wanted to be proactive and provide some safe spaces for our community to enjoy,' organizer Rudy Vargas said.

Parks After Dark is modeled after a successful L.A. County program that over the past decade has worked to reduce crime and create safe places to play in local communities.

"It's proven that activating a park at night from 6 p.m. yo 9 p.m. actually has a 32% decrease in crime," Vargas said.

Events will take place at parks in San Diego every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through the end of August. Not only do they offer fun activities, but also free food and groceries.

"When we came we saw the police walking around, now it's friendly, you feel safe. I don't see homeless or people doing drugs before the event," Ana Gonzalez said.

The 2022 "Parks After Dark" schedule and activities can be found here.

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