(STMW) — As visitors prepare for Saturday’s Magnificent Mile Lights Festival on Saturday, city officials caution residents and spectators to prepare for a busy day of downtown traffic and parking restrictions.
“Hundreds of thousands” of spectators are expected downtown for the annual holiday lighting ceremony along Michigan Avenue, according to a statement from the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
The lighting procession, led by grand marshalls Mickey and Minnie Mouse, steps off at 5:30 p.m. heading east on Oak from Rush to Michigan, south to Wacker and east on Wacker to Columbus, officials said. Fireworks are scheduled to conclude the ceremony at 6:55 p.m. over the Chicago River at Michigan.
The main route of the parade will be closed to traffic from 3:30 to 8 p.m., with Michigan Avenue shut down from Oak to Wacker; Oak from State to Michigan; and Upper Wacker from Michigan to the east turnaround, officials said. Additionally, Upper Columbus Drive will be closed between Wacker and Randolph from 4:30 to 11 p.m.
Spectators won’t be allowed to watch fireworks from any of the Downtown bridges, and the Michigan Avenue Bridge will be closed to pedestrians as early as 3:45 p.m., officials said.
Other closures starting about 8 a.m. include Oak from Clark to State, Dearborn from Delaware to Maple, and Walton from State to Clark. Those streets are slated to reopen at 6 p.m.
Officials urge visitors to use public transportation. Metra will provide extra trains and increased capacity on the BNSF, UP Northwest, UP West, Milwaukee North, Milwaukee West and Rock Island lines, according to the transit agency.
The OEMC also cautioned people to be aware of pick-pockets in large crowds, and to dress for the weather. National Weather Service forecasters are calling for a high of 47 and a low of 45 on Saturday, with steady rain that is predicted to taper off in time for the parade, with a dry spell between 4 and 7 p.m.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)