Will you be safe at this year’s Taste of Chicago?
The first day of the Taste of Chicago came and went without any major violence. That is not to say that there weren’t any shootings in the city. It just means that security in and around Grant Park kept things quiet for a good-sized crowd of attendees.
The perfect weather and a repeat of last year’s successful security measures seem to have done the trick. The Tribune’s Phil Vettel reported today that concerns about whether this 32nd Taste of Chicago would be poorly attended, given its shorter span (five days, its shortest run since 1985’s seven-day festival) and fewer participants (40 food booths, down from 59 in 2011), disappeared under the bright sunshine and blue skies of a glorious summer afternoon.
Attendance was way down last year, but so were arrests. Then newly appointed Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy claimed a nearly 50 percent drop in arrests and a 20 percent reduction in citations for soliciting, panhandling and peddling without a license. There also wasn’t a single incident involving illegal weapons, unlike in 2009 when a man was arrested just before Friday night’s fireworks display after attempting to bring a sawed-off shotgun into the Taste of Chicago, less than a week after a man was arrested for carrying a loaded handgun near a Grant Park security checkpoint, police said.
The first day was a great success and we hope the rest of the Taste, which will continue through this Sunday, will not see any of the violence that occurred in 2008 when four shootings, one fatal, occurred in the Loop.
The large police presence doesn’t mean that criminals won’t be active in and around Grant Park and on public transportation heading to and from the area.
Expect thieves, primarily pickpockets to be working the crowds at the Taste. Public transportation will have its share of pickpockets and strong-arm robbers looking for passengers with their heads down; focused on their smartphones, tablets and iPods.
What can you do to avoid being one of this year’s Taste of Chicago crime victims, or at least limit your losses?
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