To prepare for Lollapalooza weekend, Lurie Children’s Hospital added extra staff and equipment to handle a higher patient load, based on past experience with the three-day music festival in Grant Park. The Streeterville hospital treated 33 concertgoers mostly for alcohol and drug abuse over the weekend, said Dr. Walter Eppich, an attending physician in Lurie’s emergency department. Some of the teenagers were two to three times the legal alcohol limit to drive after mixing hard liquor with marijuana, ecstasy or cocaine, Eppich said.
“They wouldn’t know their name. They were very altered in their mental status,” Eppich said. “It’s not a pretty sight because they are vomiting all over themselves.” Thirty-four people were arrested and 238 concertgoers were sent to area hospitals during Lollapalooza, which was shortened by about an hour on Sunday after Grant Park was evacuated ahead of an afternoon storm.
The arrests were for thefts, illegal entries into the festival, fights and drugs, city Office of Emergency Management and Communications spokeswoman Melissa Stratton said. Area hospitals reported treating concertgoers for alcohol and drug abuse including Northwestern Memorial Hospital, which treated 86 attendees over the weekend, a hospital representative said.
Sixty-one citations also were issued over the weekend to concertgoers for trespassing, fence jumping and illegally selling items around the perimeter of the festival, Stratton said. Thirty-four arrests, 137 citations and 303 medical transports were logged at last year’s festival, Stratton said. In 2013, there were reports of 46 arrests, 38 citations and 314 medical transports.
About 300,000 concertgoers total were expected to attend the weekend’s slate of concerts by more than 130 bands. The Chicago Park District will walk through Grant Park and assess damage from the festival at the end of the week, Stratton said. Other concertgoers streamed onto a cordoned-off Michigan Avenue and huddled under canopies, flooded nearby restaurants, stores and hotels, and waited out the storm at the three Grant Park parking garages designated as emergency shelters.
But not everyone willingly left the fest. Some patrons near the stage named for Lollapalooza co-founder Perry Farrell would not evacuate, so police assistance was requested to make sure the concertgoers exited, Pearce said. Attendees were allowed back in the park at about 3:30 p.m., and the music resumed after 4 p.m. No bands were canceled, but officials pushed the Sunday closing time from 10 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. After more potentially severe weather was spotted in the area, the closing time was moved up to 10:30 p.m.
Lollapalooza organizers began alerting attendees at 7 p.m. that weather could affect the evening schedule by sending notifications via the festival’s mobile app and making announcements on stages, video boards and social media. Pearce said the protocol was part of the festival’s weather plan, which the city would not provide to the Tribune last week because it contains “public safety-sensitive information.”
After meetings throughout the afternoon and evening, the decision to cut the festival short was made at 8:45 p.m., Stratton said. At 9:55 p.m., the Lollapalooza account tweeted the show was over, and more than 89,000 attendees left the park. Florence + the Machine, electronic music trio Nero and DJs Bassnectar and Kygo shortened their set times for the early exit.
“While we are disappointed to end the festivities early, safety always comes first,” C3 director of publicity Sandee Fenton said in an emailed statement. Lollapalooza was last evacuated for hours in 2012 ahead of a storm that dumped rain on Grant Park. No injuries were reported from that evacuation.
The festival is scheduled to return to Grant Park July 29-31, 2016, Chicago Tribune reports..