CHICAGO (FOX 32/Sun-Times) - The Taste of Chicago attracts hundreds of thousands people each day, and with that comes a need for increased security.
"A lot of the same public safety strategies apply to this event as do for the fourth of July yesterday that we had a Navy Pier, as we had last week at the Pride Fest and Pride Parade and Lollapalooza coming up right after this,” said Rich Guidice, Managing Deputy of Operations at OEMC.
New this year for the taste is something we just saw at Navy Pier for the Fourth of July, and that is ‘wanding.’
"There is a bag check when you come into the Taste and this year there will be wanding by private security to enter the facility,” said Guidice.
It’s something that people didn't seem to mind for Chicago’s big events, like Independence Day fireworks on the pier.
"It's necessary, so I feel pretty good about that,” said Sharon Ware.
"I feel more comfortable, I think that's the right approach to do it,” said Galina Reytikh.
Once you're inside, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications is reminding people to locate the posts with numbers on them. It’ll make it easier to find lost loved ones or to report any incidents to police.
However, there is plenty of fun to be had. New this year is a cocktail lounge around Buckingham Fountain and pop up restaurants.
"We have Burger Belly and RME and Mad Social and all different kinds of fun, new places that are really hot and trendy right now,” said Mary Slowik, Taste of Chicago manager. “There's no other place where you can come to one central location and get so many great things to eat."
Drivers are advised to avoid the Grant Park area downtown as several street closures are already in place ahead of the Taste of Chicago.
The Taste of Chicago will be open from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; and from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, according to a statement from the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
Several street closures are in place until 4 p.m. Monday. Columbus is closed from Monroe to Balbo, and from Balbo to Roosevelt, according to the OEMC. Balbo remains open to traffic. Drivers are advised to take Lake Shore Drive on the east and State Street on the west to get around the Columbus closure.
Jackson is also closed from Michigan to Lake Shore Drive, and Congress is shut down from Columbus to Congress Parkway.
Several parking restrictions are also in effect in the area, so those driving to the festival are advised to park in the Millennium Garage. Public transportation is highly recommended.
Northbound CTA buses that run along Columbus, Roosevelt, and Michigan will be rerouted in the area due to the street closures because of the taste, according to the CTA.
The CTA will also periodically run longer trains and add service on the Red, Blue, Brown, Orange and Green Lines throughout the weekend to accommodate Taste visitors. Buses on the No. 3 King Drive, No. 4 Cottage Grove, No. 6 Jackson Park Express, No. J14 Jeffrey Jump, No. 29 State, No. 146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express and No. 151 Sheridan lines will also be adding service.
However, Forest Park-bound Blue Line trains will not be stopping at Irving Park due to construction.
Metra will offer additional service to riders attending the Taste on the BNSF and Union Pacific Northwest lines, according to the transit agency.
Additional inbound and outbound trains will be available to BNSF Line customers from Aurora to Downers Grove. An additional Union Pacific Northwest Line train will depart from Ogilvie at 6:20 p.m. Saturday and will express to Des Plaines, then make all stops to Crystal Lake.
Trains on all other Metra lines were operate normally.
The estimated attendance for last year’s festival was 1.4 million, according to a city spokesperson.