Parents shut out of park district online registration

February 21, 2012 4:42:03 PM PST
Parents across the city are upset after being unable to register online for Chicago Park District classes due to the amount of traffic on its website. Competition to sign up online for spring park district classes is fierce. Many classes fill up within a couple minutes of registration opening. The park district was using a new system Tuesday morning, which became overloaded.

Alissa Spera is an old pro at signing up her kids, Marina, 4, and Patrick, 2, for park district classes. She was on to her computer and ready to go well before the online registration opened at 9 a.m. Tuesday. But when the time came and she tried to sign up for swimming classes, she was out of luck.

"There was a message that said due to a high volume of traffic we are experiencing delays, no kidding, don't log off or refresh or you will lose your place in line," said Spera.

Parents all around the city were apparently getting similar messages on their computers.

The park district's Facebook page is filled with complaints and questions from parents. The page offers an apology for the inconvenience, saying the site is experiencing very high traffic.

Lissett Merrill was also hoping to get her son into a swim class. He has taken other park district classes including t-ball and enjoys them, but not this time.

"I was on it way before the time of the opening of the enrollment and I still wasn't able to get in," said Merrill.

Spera was also shut out as were most of the friends she has talked to Tuesday. She believes more parents are staying in the city with their kids, creating more competition for getting into classes.

"It's almost luck of the draw. Were you able to click that nanosecond sooner than anybody else for that coveted class," said Spera.

A park district spokesperson says traffic on the website was about four times higher than what they expected. Officials added capacity as quickly as they could. A number of spots in most classes are reserved for people to sign up in person at the park district on Saturday morning.