City preps for watch party, Olympic vote

Rio also gets ready for a celebration
October 1, 2009 8:50:34 PM PDT
Big crowds are expected at viewing parties around the Chicago area.Among the party locations is Daley Plaza.

Chicago 2016 organizers expect 15 to 20,000 people to pack Chicago's traditional gathering place starting early in the morning. They'll be greeted with refreshments, and, for the lucky, souvenir t-shirts -- all to put them in the mood to hopefully witness history.

Olympic orange bathes the fountains of Daley Plaza as the stage is set for the announcement. And organizers promise there will be a place even for those who may be ambivalent about Chicago hosting the world.

"This is a seven-year period. Hopefully we'll win the games tomorrow and that's when the real work begins and all of us need to participate," said Gyata Kimmons, Chicago 2016.

In Washington Park, proposed site of a host of Olympic venues, it's a sensibility organizers hope invades the big top at the Universoul Circus -- in town once again -- which will stop mid-production Friday morning so 2,200 kids and seniors can take in the word from Copenhagen.

"It is a great day and huge day for the country. Chicago representing America is huge," said Alderman Willie Cochran, 20th Ward.

A Chicago win will bring an Olympic stadium to a spot about 200 yards south of where an elephant treads. The aquatic center would go about 400 yards to the east. So for Cochran, the Copenhagen decision is a pivot point in Chicago's future.

"This gives us an opportunity to develop our schools and parks," said Cochran.

And the city beams its hopes across the sky, they there's a day to go tots decision and excitement in the region. There's a street party planned. While schools everywhere will likely have their TVs tuned to the announcement, Chicago Public Schools is planning Olympic-themed lessons at Reavis School on the South Side. And as the city beams its hopes across the misty skies on Thursday night, -- notice the "1" on the Aon building for a day to go to the decision -- there are many who believe a Chicago gold medal Friday means good things for the region.

"I think we'll all benefit from the services that they can provide, to the people around the world when they come to visit Chicago and let them know more about us," said Veronica Porter of Naperville.

Some streets in downtown Chicago will closed on October 2; Clark from Randolph down to Washington was closed on Thursday night and will stay closed until 4:00 on Friday. Depending on how the crowds go, there could be additional closures, including Washington at LaSalle and Dearborn and Madison. There some buses may be rerouted. Click here for info. on street closures/bus rereoutes

Officials encourage the public to take public transporation.

Olympians attend Chicago pep rally

Olympians held a pep rally in Chicago before Friday's big vote. The National Hellenic Museum hosted an event called Olympic Dreams. Athletes and supporters of the Games mingled over cocktails and ethnic hors d'oeuvres representing the four finalist cities.

Olympians told ABC7 why they think chicago deserves the 20-16 summer games.

"It would be great to be here in Chicago, we have venues that kids look up to," said Danell "Doc" Nicholson, Olympic boxer.

"And this is getting pretty close to what it was before," said Rick Wohlhuter, Olympic track athlete.

Group opposes bid

But despite all the hype surrounding backing the bid, some still don't like the idea of a Chicago-based Olympics. The group No Games Chicago says the Games won't generate enough revenue to cover what it will cost the host the event and adds taxpayers could be left holding the bill.

"There's plans to use $110 million for the Olympic Village, on top of the money that's set aside for cost overruns. They're telling us it's not going to cost a dime but set aside bundles for this," said Bob Quellos of No Games Chicago.

No Games Chicago also says an Olympic stadium in Washington Park, along with other planned construction, will displace current residents, and because of gentrification, make it impossible for them to continue to live in that South Side area.

Supporters of Mayor Daley's Olympic hopes disagree.

"On the South Side, we could use more investment in our neighborhoods, as long as we as elected officials are vigilant about being sure that long-term community residents have an opportunity to stay in their homes and that low and moderate-income families have an opportunity to move into the new housing," said Ald. Toni Preckwinkle of Chicago's 4th Ward.

Brazil also prepares for a celebration

One of cities also hoping to host the 2016 Games is planning a big party. in Rio.

A stage is being built on Copacabana beach in anticipation of the big announcement. Bands will perform, and the public is invited to come and cheer on the city's bid.

Brazilian officials even declared Friday an optional public holiday so that more people can take part in the festivities.


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