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Mayor Calls Taste ‘Safest In Recent Memory’

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(credit: Steve Hardy/CBS Local)

(credit: Steve Hardy/CBS Local)

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CHICAGO (CBS) The streets around Grant Park are open again today after crews finished cleaning up from the 10-day Taste of Chicago.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is saying the extra safety precautions taken this year appear to have worked.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports

“I commend the City’s public safety agencies and employees for their efforts to make this year’s event the safest in recent memory,” he said in a statement.

Emanuel commended the city’s public safety agencies for keeping the festival safe. There were nearly 50 percent fewer arrests this year, and none involving illegal weapons.

Park District Supt. Michael Kelly agreed that the Taste was a success from the public safety perspective.

“It’s gone great. The police tell me this is one of the lowest incidents they’ve ever had,” Kelly said over the weekend. “Eleven days ago we were sitting and someone raised flash mobs. Now all we’re talking about is family-friendly, mission accomplished. This has been a great success for us and the Chicago Police Department.”

In 2008, four people were shot – and one of them died – while leaving the Taste of Chicago and the fireworks show, but nothing remotely like that happened this year.

This was the first Taste of Chicago run by the Chicago Park District rather than the Mayor’s Office of Special Events – now known as the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

This year’s attendance numbers are not yet in. The Taste last year, which was the first without the July 3 Fireworks Extravaganza, drew some 700,000 fewer people than the more than 3.3 million who came the year before.

But we do know that those who came consumed 120,000 turkey legs, 57,500 chicken wings, and 50,000 slices of Eli’s Cheesecake.

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