Millennium Park implementing new security plan for events

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This year, when you attend a movie, concert or festival, security guards will be checking bags and using metal detectors. (WLS)

Millennium Park will launch its new security plan this weekend. This year, when you attend a movie, concert or festival, security guards will be checking bags and using metal detectors.

The security plan's first test will be on Saturday, when Poland's president attends an event with other members of the Polish-American community in Chicago.

"That actually is a private event by the Polish consulate, but it will be the first time when patrons come into Millennium Park into a concert at Pritzker Pavilion and will go through the security perimeter," said Ann Hickey, the deputy commissioner of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, or DCASE.

Hickey said the park has three security plans depending on the size of the event. All of them include security perimeters, where you will see colored tents. Green tents are entrance points, and red tents are where you will exit the park.

Everyone "will be asked to open their bag so people can look in it," said Hickey. "Some people might get wanded as well going in."

If you do not have a bag to check, you will be allowed to go through the "fast lanes" at security check points, she said. Gates will open 2-3 hours before each event, whether that's a concert, movie, or festival. Major events will have open gates starting at 6 a.m.

Large events, like the Blues Festival, will include the largest perimeter available, encircling Cloud Gate, one of the city's hottest tourist attractions.

Friday, tourists and Chicagoans at the park had different viewpoints about the new security efforts.

"Unfortunately, this is what our country is coming to. We have to go through these checks," said David Stein, a tourist visiting from Florida.

Others, however, were enthusiastic to hear about the changes.

"It might be a hassle to have to go through a security checkpoint, but at the same time, the end game is having more security and nothing happen," said Christian Luciano, a Chicago law student.

Along with the security checks, alcohol policies will also be in place. Outside alcohol will be prohibited at seven major events.

  • May 26: Chicago House Music Festival

  • June 8-10: Chicago Blues Festival

  • June 24: Chicago Mariachi Festival

  • July 4: Grant Park Music Festival Independence Day Salute

  • August 9: Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me

  • August 13: Broadway in Chicago Summer Concert

  • August 29-Sept. 2: Chicago Jazz Festival

"It is important to note that you will still purchase alcohol inside. We are just not allowing alcohol to be brought in" during those seven events, Hickey said.

There will be more vendors selling food and drinks once inside the perimeter, and the vast majority of events will allow outside alcohol and food.

As far as the performers, Blues Man Oscar Wilson, who had a preview performance of the Blues Festival at the Cultural Center today, had this to say about the security plan: "I'm actually glad. The safer, the better."

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entertainmentmillennium parksecuritylive musicChicagoLoop
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