The long running Lollapalooza music festival had it’s first evacuation since it began in 1991. The city of Chicago’s Emergency Management, as well as promoter C3 were carefully watching the weather and made the decision to evacuate while the skies were still clear. Officials made the announcements and asked concert goers to leave Grant Park around 3:30pm sending tens of thousands of people into the city (attendance was estimated at 60,000). People were taking shelter wherever they could – underground parking garages, hotel lobbies and bars. An article by the Chicago Tribune says that the bars ran out of mixed drink ingredients.
The park reopened a few hours later after officials inspected the area for any damage. Winds during the storm likely got as high as 60 miles an hour which is very dangerous with the tall and temporary nature of the concert staging. Promoters and city officials are likely to be more cautious than ever because of the tragedy at the Indiana State Fair last year where part of the stage structure blew into the audience during high winds killing 7 fans. When the safety of that many people is at stake you can’t be too careful.
In the end the festival was shut down for approximately 3 hours. A handful of bands were unable to play and C3 is offering no refunds. The fields were a sea of mud after the deluge. Apparently the promoter will have to pay to mend the turf (but what good festival doesn’t end with mud pies and dirty faces)?
Kudos to officials handling the event as there were no reported injuries or arrests throughout the evacuation and reopening.