Chicago traffic: Concerts, sports and festivals make for a busy weekend in city

CPD defends its response to Mexican Independence Day car caravan traffic

Saturday, September 18, 2021
CPD defends response to Mexican Independence Day traffic
Chicago police defended their response to Mexican Independence Day traffic problems as dozens of events will draw crowds downtown this weekend.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The weekend is expected to be a busy one as Chicago gets out to enjoy the last weekend of summer. From concerts to sporting events and art festivals, city officials are telling people to anticipate traffic and report any suspicious activity.

The Loop was relatively quiet Friday night after thousands of Mexican Independence Day revelers flooded downtown Wednesday and Thursday. Some questioned if the city did enough to prepare for the traffic jam.

"Seems like it's a little bit of a free-for-all this year," said Tina Feldman, Prairie District Neighborhood Association.

But the city defended its response, saying only the latest intelligence suggested needing a more visibly proactive plan. Chicago police are now shutting downtown stretches of main roads as needed, including DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

"It's important to celebrate the role they have played in our city's diverse history, helping Chicago to become the great city it is today," said First Deputy Supt. Eric Carter. "But that celebration must be peaceful and responsible."

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Authorities are watching dozens of events this weekend, including Dead and Company's return to the Friendly Confines.

"It's not often you get to embrace three or four generations of people coming out to listen to live music and we all can agree I think that it's been far too long," fan Jeff Fisher said.

Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications is warning residents to expect increased traffic.

Riot Fest is another of the many events happening in Chicago this weekend, and the line to get into started before the gates opened at 11 a.m. Friday.

With Smashing Pumpkins the big act Friday night, many diehard fans wanted to be in place early.

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"[I'm] trying to get really close to the rail to see the Pumpkins and that's really my main focus," said Riot Fest attendee James Young.

Some fans got to the music festival in Douglass Park early, not just to get a spot in the crowd, but also to avoid traffic on one of Chicago's busiest weekends jam-packed with events.

Kevin Kelsay from Wisconsin came with a strategy.

"Get here early while there is still available parking in the area, otherwise take mass transportation. I used an app to find an open spot," Kelsay said.

Mexican Independence Day is also bringing increased traffic to the city and those celebrations are expected to last through the weekend.

Despite the noise complaints and trouble getting around, South Loop resident Lou Major isn't going to let anything get in the way of him enjoying this weekend.

"This is the last weekend to hang out with friends," Major said. "Enjoy the weather. Any moment it could change."

Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications is warning residents to expect increased traffic.

Other weekend events include the Chicago Bears home opener at Soldier Field, concerts at Wrigley Field, art festivals on Michigan Avenue and the Riverwalk, and several runs and walks for different causes.

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Justin Limbach, from Orlando, said he's just taking it all in.

"Every time I've been here, it's been really nice," Limbach said. "The weather is so much nicer here than it is down there."

Meanwhile, OEMC officials are also asking people to be aware of their surroundings and if you see anything suspicious, notify security or police.

"To some degree, you do have to expect that there may be something that goes down, so I'm always on full alert regardless," said Riot Fest attendee Devin Sandoval.