Where is Lollapalooza in Chicago? Gates open at Grant Park at 11 a.m.
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Thousands of people flocked to Grant Park Thursday as the four-day Lollapalooza music festival began.
Signs and loudspeaker announcements reminded festival-goers they need to have proof of either full COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test result from within 72 hours attending Lollapalooza.
Organizers also ask unvaccinated guests to stay masked on site.
The four-day festival typically draws around 100,000 people each day. With COVID cases climbing again amid the Delta variant spread and new masking guidance, some have decided to skip the festival. But others remain undeterred.
"We have the N95 mask ready and we want to be to the front row for two artists, but we are not going to mingle or share drinks or anything, 'said attendee Christiana Kaleebu, who is vaccinated.
"I knew it was gonna be like a lot of people, so I feel like they are taking precautions and whatnot so it should be safe," said attendee Dema Obaiv.
"I have never been, this was the first time I've ever been, and honestly this was the coolest festival I've ever been to," said Manuel Rojo.
COIVD tests shown by unvaccinated attendees cannot be more than 72 hours old, so anyone with a four-day pass that isn't vaccinated has to get tested twice.
"We are Pfizer fairies, fully vaccinated," Kaleebu said. "We are ready. We are not playing games. I tis insane people are coming if they are not vaccinated, but your body your choice I guess."
"I think if you choose not to get the vaccine you should be able to go in with a mask," said Olivia Stachovic, concertgoer.
"We had a plan that we would stay at least six feet away from everybody, so kinda stuck to that," said Angelica Barner after her first day at the fest.
There is also a COVID vaccination clinic set up right outside the front gates. Hundreds of vials of Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson single doses are ready to go to anyone who wants them. They will give anyone getting a vaccine a CDC card on site.
Lollapalooza tweeted Thursday afternoon that more than 90% of people who came showed proof of vaccination, 8% brought negative COVID tests and "for the 600 of you who showed up without paperwork, we hope to see you tomorrow!"
Chicago's top doctor has given the festival safety plans a thumbs up and says with this being outside she hopes there won't be major COVID problems. But, she also acknowledged it's is likely some people will get COVID here because of how many people will be crowded together.
And testing sites like the Center for COVID Control on State Street are seeing a lot more people come through for a test, hoping for a negative to go to Lollapalooza.
Aside from COVID protocols, there are other rules as well.
First, you have to have a festival wristband, only clear bags are allowed inside and no liquids can be brought in with you.
There is a heavy police presence downtown for the duration of the music festival, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot expressed confidence they are prepared.
The plan has been in the works for months, created in partnership with other state and local agencies and using technology to keep an eye on the crowds and keep the festival safe.
"So it definitely is helpful to know that there's going to be a lot of law enforcement in case anything does happen," said Chloe Arnold, a concertgoer from Charlotte, North Carolina.
Safety concerns are heightened by the shootings that have put Chicago in the headlines, even getting the attention of the White House.
"So the safety plan has been really rigorously scrubbed, reinforced and we've drilled on it over and over, leading up till today," said Mayor Lightfoot.
Chicago also worked with the hotel industry to report suspicious activity. Over the July 4th weekend, a cleaning service worker discovered numerous weapons in the room of an Iowa man whose windows overlooked Navy Pier.
Law enforcement also made extensive use of technology.
"So this is a layered public safety plan, we have cameras, we have well over 700 cameras associated with what we call the footprint of this event that includes license plate readers as well," said Rich Guidice, OEMC Director.
The mayor tried to assure the rest of the city that downtown is the main, but not the only focus.
"We will never and have never sacrificed the protection of our neighborhoods for some event downtown," said Mayor Lightfoot.
The mayor said communication is also key and that updates are being shared on an hourly basis.
She said people should come and feel safe.
The Office of Emergency management reported that so far there have been no incidents.
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