NORTH LAWNDALE — On Monday, electronic dance music festival Spring Awakening, which has had a rocky history in Chicago, announced that it would be moving to Douglas Park this year. But there’s one problem: they didn’t alert the alderman or neighbors of their plan.
The festival organizers React Presents said the eighth annual festival will take place at Douglas Park when it comes to town June 7-9. But Ald. George Cardenas (12th) was fast to call out the fest’s owners for failing to consult the alderman and those living in the surrounding neighborhoods before making the announcement.
In a statement issued late Monday night, Cardenas said he was “shocked” to hear that organizers planned to bring between 30,000 to 40,000 festival goers to Douglas Park without community buy in.
“I am not against music, and I am a big fan of other festivals, but this group did this without my consent and more importantly, without the community in mind,” Cardenas said in a statement.
Cardenas, whose ward includes the south end of Douglas Park, said he has notified Park District and city officials that he will not sign off on Spring Awakening’s plan to bring the fest to the park.
But Chicago Park District officials said aldermanic approval is not required.
The Park District is currently processing a special event permit application for the Spring Awakening Music Festival, Park District spokeswoman Irene Tostado said in an email. React Presents applied for the permit on Nov. 2, but no permit has been issued to date.
The city agency does not require aldermanic approval or community input before permits are issued, Tostado said, but they encourage all event organizers to gather input from the surrounding communities.
In a statement, React Presents said they decided to move to Douglas Park because construction will begin next spring on a new field house and soccer fields in Addams/Medill Park in University Village — the festival’s previous home for the last three years.
In 2016, 33 people were arrested at the festival for drug offenses or battery to a police officer. While Ald. Jason Ervin fielded few formal complaints about the fest in 2016, some neighbors described the fest as “super loud” and disruptive.
Cardenas said fest organizers made the announcement without following typical protocol of garnering community support or receiving aldermanic approval.
“Festival organizers who enjoy the support of my office and our community are good partners,” Cardenas said. “They have outreach events to discuss safeguards, logistics and environmental impacts, they willingly donate to local not for profits, provide community job opportunities and participate in neighborhood holiday events. These groups respect our community and the process. I did not authorize [Spring Awakening’s] decision to relocate to Douglas Park, and will be taking further action to maintain 12th ward residents’ concerns as the top priority.”
Founded as a concert series in 2008, Spring Awakening promoters decided to launch a two-day outdoor music festival at Soldier Field in 2012, where it was hosted through 2015. But a scheduling conflict with the Copa America soccer tournament booted the fest from Soldier Field, and Spring Awakening was forced to find a new home.
After first announcing Spring Awakening 2016 would take place at Jackson Park in Woodlawn, the fest was eventually moved to Addams/Medill Park in 2016.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.