Grant Park is a flurry of activity as Lollapalooza approaches, and Sydney Babbington of Oak Park will likely attend the summer's largest music festival in the city.
"I'm leaning into it. I'm leaning into it, but we'll see," Babbington said as she strolled around Buckingham Fountain Thursday afternoon. "Friday or Thursday, best days."
This year, COVID-19's delta variant presents a new challenge for festival lovers.
"It's definitely something to be cautious of while you're there, but it shouldn't keep you back from going," Babbington said.
But the virus is exactly why some fans are skipping this year's event. Elise Leopold, a DePaul University student, has decided to forgo the event altogether after reading Lolla's website.
"It is for me. I love it," Leopold said. "But just to get in, to have to be vaccinated, which I'm not, and then to get tested every day, the first thing that came to my head was like - no, I can't."
Lolla's website has listed the safety protocols now in place. You must be fully vaccinated, or have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of attending Lolla. When you enter, you must have a printed copy of your vaccine card, vaccine record, or negative COVID test. You must also have your festival wristband. If you're unvaccinated, Lolla's website says you have to wear a mask as well.
"I do have the vaccine, so I wouldn't be worried about it," Babbington said. "But I think they should definitely make sure that's enforced beforehand or try to do their best."
So should you go to Lolla? Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago's top doctor, answered that question during her Facebook Live Q&A session Thursday morning.
"My largest concern is for people who are not yet vaccinated, and making that decision. If you are fully vaccinated, I would feel comfortable attending," Dr. Arwady said.
"I would put a mask on frankly. I like these in the summer, these are the ones I like personally," Dr. Arwady said while holding a disposable mask in her hand. "But having that does help to an extent, and then, you know, maybe you don't want to get right into the middle of the mosh pit, you know."
So maybe skip the mosh pit and still have some fun. As Babbington noted, "It's one of the best ways to close out a good summer."
Statement from Lollapalooza organizers
"Lollapalooza will be enforcing the health measures we have put in place at the direction of the City of Chicago and Chicago Department of Public Health. We will have staff at the entry gates checking for printed vaccination and negative test documents as fans enter the festival. We would advise our fans to build in extra time to allow for this additional entry requirement. If fans arrive without this documentation, they will be turned away.
Lollapalooza has been working with the City of Chicago continually to encourage vaccinations to ensure that all fans who meet the requirements have a safe and enjoyable weekend."