By Andrea Botham

Summer is in session at Chastain Park, and the sound of children playing is a testament to the good things happening there.

The Chastain Arts Center has played host to a summer arts camp for more than eight years and has seen the number of campers rise from 200 in its early years to almost 500 this summer.

Erin Bailey, the facility manager for the arts center, told of the success of the 10-week program during the July 7 meeting of Neighborhood Planning Unit A.

“Not only do we have this successful arts camp, Chastain Arts was nominated for a Nickelodeon Parents Pick Award for the best place for arts classes for kids in Atlanta,” Bailey said. “I am thrilled just to be nominated; it is such an honor.”

Programs are targeted for kids from as young as 2 to as old as 16, and the classes continue through Aug. 14.

Now that the city is in a new budget year and has ended its furloughs, park crews are returning to nine-day cycles for mowing the grounds instead of 11-day cycles.

Some of the city’s recreational centers also will be able to extend their hours and add new programming, including things for senior citizens.

Chastain Park also is the new host of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention walk. Typically held at Piedmont Park, it will have its inaugural year at Chastain on Oct. 4.

The foundation’s Chris Owings told the NPU-A how excited the group is to be at Chastain this year.

“We used to have to do two loops at Piedmont Park, and we could see the walkers would be fizzling out by the second loop, so we like that we can do one 3-mile loop at Chastain,” Owings said.

The walk is expected to have 350 to 500 participants.