With Easter and St. Patrick’s Day festivities wrapped up around Chicago, there’s a sense of the busy outdoors season soon to come for residents, visitors and advocates of Grant Park and the South Loop area. Making headlines around the community last month were several news stories that keep upcoming spring/summer events in perspective. A very special monument will soon be in place near Soldier Field, bringing with it a series of park events to celebrate Special Olympics. A new building will open in the South Loop and it’s part of the massive Riverline development. Lollapalooza announces it lineup and Millennium Park issues a safety update. Millennium Park also made an appearance in international news, drawing crowds for a major sports announcement.
1) “Eternal Flame of Hope” Commemorates Special Olympics 50 Year Anniversary
Officials unveiled a new public art piece to celebrate the 50th anniversary year of Special Olympics and held a groundbreaking ceremony in Grant Park on March 2. The new monument will be located off McFetridge Drive outside of Soldier Field—recognized as the birthplace of Special Olympics. This new permanent, 30-foot monument, titled Eternal Flame of Hope, celebrates Chicago’s role in the formation of Special Olympics and conveys the hope for inclusion and empowerment of people with intellectual disabilities.
Rendering: Special Olympics
On July 20, 1968, nearly 1,000 athletes came together at Soldier Field for the first ever International Special Olympics Games. The event was a significant moment in a worldwide civil-rights movement. This summer—from July 17-21, 2018—Grant Park and the greater Chicago area will again host athletes from around the world for several anniversary events. One highlight will be a 4-mile run along the lakefront path that will end with the lighting of the Eternal Flame of Hope. Learn more about upcoming events and see photos of the Eternal Flame at specialolympics50.org.
2) Development Divided Along Chicago River at South Branch
Chicago Tribune and Curbed Chicago reported on the Riverline development last month, revealing that its owners have split the $2 billion plan into two separate residential projects. According to the report, “the eight-tower South Loop mega-development is now two separately controlled projects, with Australia’s Lendlease taking over work on the 7-acre portion north of River City Condominiums and Chicago-based CMK Cos. keeping the 8-acre parcel south of the Bertrand Goldberg-designed complex”.
Rendering: Perkins + Will
The joint venture first broke ground less than two years ago and follows a complex master plan designed by Perkins + Will. The only building currently under construction (a 29-story, 452-unit apartment tower just north of River City) will open this summer. Apartments, condos and townhouses—as well as public amenities such as a riverwalk and outdoor paths, park space, water taxi stop and kayak launch—are planned, bringing in significant changes to what will be a transformed South Loop.
3) Rod Laver, John McEnroe and Roger Federer Gather in Millennium Park to Promote Tennis Tournament
Millennium Park played host to major names in tennis as officials and athletes staged a press event to promote Laver Cup 2018, the international tennis tournament coming to Chicago this fall, and announce tickets going on sale. Roger Federer, 20-time Grand Slam champion and one of the greatest players of all time, and top-ranked Australian male Nick Kyrgios played a mini match at a court built in front of Cloud Gate. The two were joined at “The Bean” by the legendary Rod Laver and seven-time Grand Slam champion John McEnroe to welcome Laver Cup 2018 to the media and large crowd on hand.
The Laver Cup will take place at United Center on September 21-23, 2018. The three-day tournament will pit six top European players (Team Europe, led by captain Björn Borg) against six of their counterparts from the rest of the world (Team World, captain John McEnroe). Chicago is only the second city to host the event; the inaugural Laver Cup was held at the O2 arena in Prague in 2017. Learn more at lavercup.com.
4) Lollapalooza Announces 4-Day Music Festival Lineup
The outdoor music festival in Grant Park announced its lineup last month, along with the opening of ticket sales. Set for August 2-5, 2018, Lollapalooza will bring in headliners The Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Jack White and Arctic Monkeys this year. The event will stage more than 170 performances across eight stages in total over the four days.
Lollapalooza is one of the largest annual events hosted in the park. As in years past, organizers expect massive crowds for the marquee summer fest and will work with park officials and local non-profit organizations on programs that give back to the park and greater community. Visit lollapalooza.com for more.
5) Millennium Park Updates Security Plan
New safety measures will be in place when Millennium Park opens its busy summer season of festivals and events. Last month, the City of Chicago announced several new changes that will improve security and enhance the visitor experience at one of our busiest tourist and cultural destinations. This comes “in the wake of terror attacks in major cities and entertainment venues across the globe…” according to OEMC Executive Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau.
Beginning May 19, Millennium Park will implement a security perimeter and bag check for all concerts and events that take place at Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Firearms, knives and other weapons will be prohibited. Outside alcohol will also be prohibited at the seven Jay Pritzker Pavilion events with the highest attendance, which include Chicago Blues Festival (June 8–10) and Chicago Jazz Festival (August 29–September 2). View the complete list at millenniumpark.org.
Of note is the unaffected policies for other events. Outside alcohol, popular with the groups that picnic along the Great Lawn, will still be allowed at the other 70 public concerts and programs happening in Millennium Park this summer. Subject to bag search at the security perimeter, guests will continue to be allowed to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages to all events at Pritzker Pavilion as well.
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