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Park Advocate: Lollapalooza Mess At Grant Park Not As Bad As 2011

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Crews work on cleaning up and repairing the fields at Grant Park after a rainy, muddy end to Lollapalooza. (Credit: CBS)

Crews work on cleaning up and repairing the fields at Grant Park after a rainy, muddy end to Lollapalooza. (Credit: CBS)

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Updated 08/04/14 – 1:25 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Grant Park might look like a muddy mess in the wake of Lollapalooza, but the head of the non-profit that protects the city’s front yard said he’s not alarmed by how much damage was done this weekend, especially compared to the million-dollar mess three years ago.

Muddy fields have become a familiar sight the past few years after the three-day music festival, withthe combination of large crowds and rain taking a toll on the grassy fields, but the situation has been much worse before.

“It’s not nearly as bad as things were in 2011,” Grant Park Conservancy President Bob O’Neill said after surveying the damage from this year’s festival.

Though the first two-and-a-half days of Lollapalooza were dry this year, Sunday afternoon’s downpour turned mosh pits into mud bogs as thousands of revelers walked and danced on the grass.

WBBM 780’s Regine Schlesinger

lollapalooza mess Park Advocate: Lollapalooza Mess At Grant Park Not As Bad As 2011
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O’Neill said this year’s damage is limited to the turf, as opposed to three years ago, when shrubs and flowerbeds were trampled.

“There’s very little other damage to gardens, or bushes, or trees,” O’Neill said.

He said people who attend Lollapalooza have become more and more careful over the years.

“People are just more respectful of the park. I think, one, it looks a lot better; so people respect it more,” he said. “And I think they realize that nowhere in the world do you have that type of festival in a downtown front yard park along the waterfront like that.”

Lollapalooza organizers will pay for all repairs.

No cost estimate has yet been provided for this year’s cleanup.

Since 2011, crews have put down a tougher type of sod, which should stand up better to the damage from so many people spending three days trampling the grass.

An army of workers has been busy since Sunday night, scrambling to clean up approximately 250 tons of trash and waste left behind after approximately 300,000 people attended the three-day music festival.

“At least 250 tons, and maybe a little bit more when we add the mud on top of it,” said David Mayer, director of business development and sustainability for Venture Smart, who is in charge of the cleanup effort.

He said approximately 250 people worked each day during Lollapalooza to keep up with the mess as best they could while the festival was still going on.

“We’re here for about a week before the event, and a week after the event, just to make sure the park gets back to the city the way it’s supposed to look,” Mayer said.

Venue Smart was hoping to recycle or compost 60 to 70 percent of the trash and waste left behind after Lollapalooza.

Crews were focusing their initial cleanup efforts on the area around Buckingham Fountain and on Columbus Drive, in hopes of reopening them by Monday evening. The rest of the park should be open by Friday.

O’Neill said, in addition to paying for repairs after the festival, Lollapalooza organizers also pay for many other improvements to Grant Park, and for many neighborhood parks.

“It’s a win-win situation. I’m going to ask them for some money for skate-able sculptures; installations that the new skate park that we’re doing with the Chicago Park District in the south end of Grant Park,” O’Neill said.

He also said the park and Lollapalooza have come to depend on each other in the decade since what started as a traveling music festival in the 1990s set down roots in Chicago in 2005.

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