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Downtown Residents Say ‘Stinkin’ Loud’ Lollapalooza Turns Their Alleys Into Public Toilets

Ald. Sophia King (4th) told neighbors Lolla is always going to be loud, but she's working with organizers on some sort of sound limit for the stages. Residents want more port-a-potties on site, too.

Ashley Osborn for Lollapalooza 2021
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DOWNTOWN — Grant Park neighbors sounded off Tuesday about Lollapallooza, complaining the massive festival is too loud, inconvenient and turns their neighborhood into a public toilet.

Residents weighed in during a public meeting organized by Ald. Sophia King’s (4th) office with festival and Park District officials about the July 28-31 event.

Lollapalooza is expected to bring 100,000 people daily during the four-day event, which has generated more than $2 billion of economic impact for the city of Chicago over the past decade, festival Director Tim Smith said. Festival setup will begin July 13, with clean up scheduled to wrap Aug. 5.

This year, festival executives tried to sweeten the deal by revealing plans to cover the costs to resurface Grant Park’s tennis courts. But residents weren’t too impressed, saying the real problem is the noise and inconvenience of the festival overall.

“Because you got four bands playing at once, the volume of noise … it’s not conducive to … guests in the neighborhood to be so stinkin’ loud,” Downtown resident Julie Ranahan said.

Residents also advocated for more port-a-potties, garbage cans and trash pickup in and around the venue, claiming the streets near the festival turn into a public waste bin.

“We have people pooping and throwing up and urinating all through our alleys. They become public restrooms, and we have to see it, and everyone’s drunk and everyone’s high,” neighbor Yasenia Roman said.

Others described windows and walls shaking, not being able to hear loved ones in their home and some renting a hotel room to get away from the blaring noise.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Crowds pack Grant Park to see Megan Thee Stallion perform during the third day of Lollapalooza at Grant Park on July 31, 2021.

King said she sympathized with residents, but she told them Lollapalooza is naturally going to be loud. She pledged to work with festival organizers to come up with a sound limit that could be used at the stages to minimize noise. She also said she wanted to limit how many special events Grant Park hosts each year.

“That’s something I want to do,” King said. “I’m sure Lollapalooza won’t be on the cut list; … it’s one of the most popular events in the city. … But I do think we can certainly know what the sound level is and what each stage should not be above and make sure that’s managed well.”

Smith said the festival organizers try their best to minimize sound, but they will work to make adjustments. Park District officials said the organizer has done “everything in its control” to mitigate noise by the placement of its speakers, but weather can change the way the sound is carried.

“There is a large component that has to do with atmospheric conditions and how it carries,” said Juliet Azimi, chief administrative officer of the Park District. “There is a noise ordinance, that’s true. There are some provisions that allow for special events that are permitted, but we are taking note of this and we will take it back.”

Updates will be given in roughly two weeks on what steps the festival is taking to be “good neighbors,” according to King’s office.

The festival will have more than 170 musical acts across nine stages. Headliners include Dua Lipa, Metallica, J. Cole, Green Day, Machine Gun Kelly, Lil Baby, Kygo and J-Hope.

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