Behind the perimeter at the currently closed Maggie Daley Park Play Garden in downtown Chicago, change is coming.
Six years after NBC 5 Responds first reported the complaints about one of the park’s most popular attractions, the Tower Slide is coming down.
For many, Maggie Daley Park is a favorite gem of the city’s vast parks system. A popular destination for tourists and locals alike, the park caters to all age groups, with its traditional playground equipment augmented by a climbing wall and skating ribbon. But one attraction at the park has also brought dozens of reports of injuries and lawsuits, as well as a steady stream of emergency vehicles responding to the park: the 25-foot tall Tower Slide.
In 2015, NBC 5 first revealed the apparent pattern of injuries. Parkgoers told us of scary moments after riding down the slide. Since our first report, NBC 5 Responds has uncovered a steady stream of similar claims.
“I heard my bones crack. Like, I just knew it was broken,” Mayra Mandujano told NBC 5 in 2019. Mandujano is among the more than 80 parkgoers who’ve reported injuries connected to MDP and its slides. She is also among those suing the Chicago Park District.
“Young adults, older adults, mothers, fathers, grandmothers. People who go down with their children, people who go down without their children are all having exactly the same injury in exactly the same part of the turn in the slide,” attorney Chris Norem, of the plaintiffs' firm Parente & Norem, told NBC 5 in 2019. The firm currently has more than a dozen pending cases related to injuries reported at Maggie Daley Park.
Among the allegation made in court, that the Chicago Park District knew of the reported injuries, but ignored them. Experts hired by plaintiffs blamed the injuries on the design of the slide, and said the overall height, incline, elevation drop and speed were to blame.
The Park District has maintained the slide is safe, when used as instructed, but now confirms it will be removed.
“We’re happy for our clients, whose goal in all of this was to get the slide taken down,” attorney Jason Gatzulis of Parente & Norem told NBC 5 Responds. “The Chicago Park District…failed to see what was right in front of them: which is there was a piece of park equipment, the Tower Slide, that was consistently causing serious injuries to both kids and adults who were going down that slide.”
In a statement, the Chicago Park District offered the following comment:
Chicago Park District is planning to carry out renovations in its Play Garden during the upcoming weeks. While the Tower Slide has always been safe when used as instructed, it will be replaced as part of this renovation with a new slide out of an abundance of caution. The existing slide will be removed this Spring 2021. A new slide is being manufactured, and the Park District will provide notification when a date for installation is available.