Lollapalooza eve: Festival prepares Grant Park, Grant Park prepares for the festival

People+line+up+at+the+Lollapalooza+box+office+on+Wednesday+the+day+before+the+first+day+of+the+event.+

Aidan Sadovi

People line up at the Lollapalooza box office on Wednesday the day before the first day of the event.

By Aidan Sadovi , Staff Writer

On Wednesday, Grant Park looked set to receive the thousands of people who will converge on the downtown oasis for Lollapalooza. Peaking past the fountains and statues of the outer edge of the park, just visible in the distance, were the hulking stages that will host some of the music industry’s biggest artists for the next four days. 

Sean Denny, an employee who works on setting up Lollapalooza’s VIP tents, said setup for the festival was “cruising right along” and that everything was almost done for the festival. 

“The big stages are up, all the decor is going in — it’s looking amazing,” Denny said. 

This year’s iteration of Lollapalooza, Denny added, “seems bigger than years past — there’s a lot going on.” 

Around the perimeter of Grant Park facing Michigan Avenue, entrances to streets like Jackson were closed in preparation for the festival, blocked by metal fencing, Lollapalooza employees and police officers. 

Along with signs that stipulated the kinds of clear bags that would be allowed to be carried in by attendees was a simple warning posted throughout the park: “Fence jumpers will be prosecuted,” a reference to years like 2019 when people — many of them underage — hurdled fencing to get in. 

Such calamity, along with the considerable noise, trash and footprint that the massive festival leaves on the park and the surrounding neighborhood, has caught the ire of area residents and politicians who may see the lucrative event as something of a perennial nuisance. 

Stephen, a resident of the area walking his dog on Wednesday, said it was “nothing” to him, however. 

Though he didn’t buy a ticket to the festival citing the steep price, he is enjoying one of the perks of being so close. Pointing to a gleaming high rise in the distance, he talked of being able to listen and “enjoy the atmosphere” from the rooftop from which he’s looking forward to listening to acts like Metallica and J Cole. 

Stephen, who recently moved to the area, said he wasn’t sure whether Grant Park was usable for the months after the festival leaves, when, in the past, the park has been muddied and strewn with trash. 

Sean Denny said that each group setting up the festival is in charge of cleaning up everything they brought in, but from there, C3 — Lollapalooza’s parent company — will clean up Grant Park. 

In the morning line to claim a ticket before the Thursday start, a line that would increase drastically by the afternoon, an attendee named Cynthia, who said she was looking forward to “all of the acts,” waited to receive her wristband.  She said she won the ticket through a radio show. 

Also in line throughout the day were teenagers, parents, people young and old, and Chicagoans and tourists alike. 

Julie Mitchell, a Chicagoan not attending the festival but who was taking photos, remarked that the traffic headaches and congestion that come with the festival — that may be familiar to some of Chicago’s most weathered downtown residents — don’t really impact her day-to-day life. 

“I take public transit, with the buses,” she said, “You can’t really count on them with something like this, but the trains are still pretty reliable — just packed.” 

Lollapalooza and C3 will look for that to stay the same this year and maybe even set a new attendance record. That may, however,  be something of a lofty goal, since last year’s momentous attendance of around 100,000 was helped by the fact that Lollapalooza was among the first live festivals to return to a pandemic-starved audience hungry for live entertainment. 

A tour guide passing by with a group of tourists spoke of last year’s Lollapalooza as a “success” because of the vaccine and testing requirements implemented. 

These requirements will not continue for this year’s festival, but Lollapalooza and C3 will hope that the “success” carries over. 

 

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