City gears up for big weekend

July 24, 2009 (CHICAGO) That means heavy traffic on area roadways and a very crowded lakefront.

One of the events is the annual Venetian Night boat parade. More than a half million people are expected to attend.

Chicagoans are getting ready for big fun and big crowds this weekend. Anyone planning on coming out for Venetian Night or for the bike race Sunday morning is encouraged to take public transportation.

The city is getting revved up for a big weekend at the lakefront with a number of events that will draw a lot of people looking to have a good time.

"You can feel the tension in the air. Everybody ready to tie one on Saturday night and I'm right there with them,' said Ronnie Renner, motocross rider.

Ronnie is a motocross star who wants to break his own Guiness world record for the highest air ever attained on a motorcycle. The event can be seen on Saturday at Red Bull highrise in Butler Field. Not only is Red Bull bring a new event to town, it's sponsoring the decades-old lakefront tradition of Venetian Night, the colorful parade of boats. Without the sponsorship, Venetian Night was in danger of being canceled because it would have put a financial strain on the city. The mayor says it's important that these events and others throughout the summer are free.

"Like anything else, a lot of people are cutting back on their vacations. They just can't afford it, someone's been laid off in their family. So they're looking for events right here in the city," said Mayor Daley.

And people from the suburbs are also looking for fun events that are free.

"We're actually coming down here for Venetian Night. We were here last year and the kids loved seeing all the boats decorated with the fireworks. It's great," said Laura Marchese of Homer Glen.

On Sunday, the second annual Chicago Criterion bike race will take place. That event is also free for spectators with several budget-friendly options to choose from, Angela Bryant says she can afford to show her family a great time this summer.

"We absolutely need it with a family of four. We need to have some cost-effective ways to have a good time and the city of Chicago absolutely provides it for us,' said Bryant.

The mayor's office of special events calls this weekend the city's boats and bikes weekend. After that, the Cubs will continue their three-game series against the Reds at Wrigley.

The public is urged to take public transportation.

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