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Taste Of Chicago Vendors Not Worried About Security

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Derrick Blakley Derrick Blakley
Derrick Blakley is a general assignment reporter for CBS 2...
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(CBS) — Get ready to roll up your sleeves and sink your teeth into some juicy grub because a big food fest is about to go down.

CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports there’s widespread confidence among vendors and city officials that the kind of violence that rocked Chicago neighborhoods last weekend won’t be seen at Grant Park.

As taste vendors scramble to set up, the one thing that doesn’t seem a concern is security. Carlos Benjamin visits every year from New York.

“When I’m here at Taste of Chicago, I feel very secure for the most part,” said Benjamin. “There’s always security walking by and checking on us as well.”

The Taste follows on the heels of Chicago’s violent Fourth of July weekend with as many as 80 neighborhood shootings.

“I don’t see the Taste of Chicago being that much of a challenge,” said 2nd Ward Alderman Robert Fioretti. “They’ve upped the prices, upped the cost, people have shied away from it.”

Indeed, the prices are higher, the crowds, smaller and the event is shorter, and maybe safer. Vendor Larry Acton of the Oak Street Beach Café has been at the Taste 25 years.

“The fact that they have perimeter security is a huge impact. It’s not a free flow,” said Acton.

The fenced perimeters make the fest easier to secure and markers high atop poles assist anyone in trouble.

“If you have an emergency, you can simply look up at the pole, call 911, and let them know where you’re at,” said Rich Guidice of the OEMC.

But the expectation here is food and fun, not mayhem.

“Come on down, bring your family, nothing to be afraid of,” said Acton.

Other security precautions: uniformed and plainclothes police and video cameras monitored at the 911 center. Security planners expect 1.2 million visitors over five days.

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