Memorial Day weekend traffic worst on Friday, police presence increased for weekend

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Whether you're downtown or in the neighborhoods, in a park or along the lake, police say you'll see a beefed-up presence of men and women in blue over Memorial Day weekend.

An outside roll call was held in Washington Park Friday, a sign police are ready. Earlier, faith leaders gathered in Bronzeville to pray for peace on the holiday weekend.

"I don't want to wake up Tuesday and say this was just another one of Chicago's Memorial Day weekend," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The city is hoping to avoid a repeat of last Memorial Day weekend, when more than 70 people were shot in various neighborhoods.

Tempers flared on the lakefront as well. A brawl on North Avenue Beach was fueled by underage drinking.

This year police are staffing 1,300 more officers for each day of the long weekend

"CPD can't do it alone. We need you all. We absolutely need you all. We have to be a part of the community. Not enforcers of the community, but a part of the community," said CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

In light of the attack in Manchester, England, police also said they'd have an increased presence at the Memorial Day Parade and Sunday's Bike the Drive.

Much of the increased police staffing this weekend will involve cops on foot and on bikes, and Johnson will be joining officers on patrol.

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Friday was getaway day for close to 40 million travelers who took the roads, skies, rails and water to kick off their Memorial Day weekend.

Friday was getaway day for 39 million travelers who took the roads, skies, rails and water to kick off their Memorial Day weekend.

"In Illinois, we have almost 3 million people traveling," said Beth Mosher, a spokesperson for AAA Chicago. "Certainly a lot of those folks will be coming from right here in the Chicagoland area."
Before you get your grill out for this three day weekend, you'll first have to get past the traffic.

AAA estimated 39 million Americans will be traveling for the Memorial Day weekend, one million more than last year.

"A busy travel season, the most travelers we've seen since 2005 for this holiday weekend," Mosher said.

On Friday, there were already glimpses of people starting their three-day weekend early.

"Barbecuing and drinking beers and hanging out with the kids," said Robert Lewis Clark.
Chicago's beaches are now open, and people wasted no time enjoying what sun they could out on North Avenue Beach.

Out on Navy Pier, Blackhawks Defender Duncan Keith started his weekend with his son.

"At the end of the day it's about spending as much time with family and friends and just being appreciative of the fact of the people we have in our lives," said Keith.

This year, AAA partnered with navigation app Waze to get their data on when the most people drive, which happens to be Friday. null
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