Members of Chicago’s Public Safety Consortium gathered at the Grand Entrance to the Taste of Chicago today to address the City’s preparedness efforts for the 2009 edition of the annual summer festival.
"The Chicago Police Department is ready to devote the appropriate manpower and resources to ensure a successful and safe time for everyone," said Superintendent Jody P. Weis. "Our advice to anyone looking to cause trouble is simple – stay at home. We will not tolerate unruly behavior. If we see it, it will be addressed."
Chicago Police have made a number of security enhancements, based in part on experience with crowd control on election night for President Barack Obama. These enhancements include:
- Access points will be manned by uniformed CPD officers and private security personnel. Illegal items will be confiscated, and unruly attendees will be turned away
- Special emphasis will be placed on transit centers, including CTA stations, Metra and Pace stops
- There will be an increased uniformed police presence. Plain clothes officers will be targeting pickpockets, as well as monitoring crowd activities and relaying information to uniformed officers for immediate action
- CPD personnel will be monitoring security cameras near the festival, and working with OEMC and CTA to monitor cameras citywide, share information and address incidents as they occur
The public is also urged to call 911 immediately to report criminal or suspicious activity. They can also use CPD's TXT2TIP program to send an anonymous message by sending the message to C-R-I-M-E-S and putting CPD in the subject line.
The Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) will have its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) open throughout the Taste to help coordinate the delivery of city resources. “The EOC will give us the ability to monitor the Taste via our camera network, and deploy emergency services as needed,” said Rich Guidice, Managing Deputy Director, OEMC.
Pole marking will be seen again this year throughout the Taste to provide residents with a visual indication of where they are located in Grant Park.
“Knowing your location when calling 911 provides operators with critical information that allows them to get resources to you as quickly as possible,” added Guidice.
The Chicago Department of Public Health inspectors will be inspecting food booths at the Taste at least four times a day.
“We take food safety seriously, and we set the bar high for the Taste of Chicago,” said Dr. Terry Mason, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “In fact, Taste of Chicago is the most tightly regulated, highly scrutinized outdoor food event in the city.”
The Health Department also provided tips for dealing with the extreme heat like:
- Wear a hat, preferably one with a brim to block out the sun;
- Wear light, comfortable clothing to help you stay cool in the summer heat;
- Use sunscreen to help prevent sunburn;
- Wear good, sturdy athletic shoes with cotton socks;
- Make sure that children in strollers are shielded from the sun;
- And drink plenty of water.
The Taste of Chicago runs Friday, June 26th through Sunday, July 5th. The following street closures will remain in effect through 3:00 p.m. on Monday, July 6th:
- Columbus: Monroe to Roosevelt
- Jackson: Lake Shore Drive to Michigan Avenue
- Congress: Michigan to Columbus
Residents should also be aware of additional street closures that will be in effect for the 3rd of July fireworks celebration.
Summer music festivals including Taste of Chicago will have designated entrances, designed to improve the customer experience.
This procedure began with the Chicago Blues Festival and will continue in late summer with the four remaining music festival.
Entrances will serve to meet policies of the events in which no alcoholic beverages may be brought into festival grounds. Additional restrictions include no pop up tents or canopies, beach or picnic umbrellas, flag poles, barbecue grills, fireworks or any illegal items or substances.
Also pets are restricted from festival grounds for their own protection except for service animals.
Festival entrances for Taste of Chicago are: Columbus and Monroe; Jackson and Michigan; Congress and Michigan; Columbus and Balbo and for Petrillo concerts, mid-block on Monroe from Columbus to Lake Shore Drive.
“Public transportation will be the most effective way to travel to the downtown during the Taste of Chicago,” said CTA President Richard L. Rodriguez. “This year we have changed some of the bus boarding locations for July 3 following the fireworks. The new locations were used on election night last year and helped move people quickly and efficiently.”
Following the fireworks, northbound customers should go to LaSalle Street where they can find the #22 Clark, #36 Broadway, #146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express,#147 Outer Drive Express and #151 Sheridan..
Southbound customers will be able to find the #3 King Drive, #4 Cottage Grove, #29 State, #62 Archer buses on Clark Street.
Westbound customers can board #20 Madison, #56 Milwaukee and #60 Blue Island/26th buses on Madison, west of Clark Street. The #126 Jackson route will board on Adams at Clark.
At Navy Pier, the #124 Navy Pier will board in front of Navy Pier near the entrance of the Children’s Museum rather than on Grand at Streeter. The #29 at Navy Pier will board at the south end of Navy Pier in front of the entrance there.
CTA reminds customers that due to crowds, bicycles are not permitted on CTA trains July 3rd and 4th. However, the bike racks on buses can be used.
As a courtesy to other customers and for the safety of everyone, CTA is also requiring that strollers and carts be folded before boarding buses and trains on both July 3rd and July 4th.
Customers may obtain travel information by visiting CTA’s web site at www.transitchicago.com, by calling 1-888-YOUR-CTA or the RTA Travel Information Center at 836-7000 from any local area code.
Media parking for the Taste will be on the westbound lane of Monroe and in the southeast section of the Rose Garden.
On the 3rd and 4th of July, media parking will only be allowed on Monroe.