CHICAGO — The future of one of the city’s biggest annual events is up in the air as NASCAR gets ready to take over Downtown streets — and Grant Park — for several weeks this summer.
The Taste of Chicago, a city staple since 1980, was notably absent from Grant Park’s summer events schedule this year, according to Park District records obtained by Block Club.
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It turns out, the city had planned to host the Taste July 1-2 at Polk Bros Park, 600 E. Grand, near Navy Pier — the same weekend that NASCAR will pack Downtown streets and Grant Park with spectators and race cars, Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) told reporters Tuesday.
Reilly, whose ward includes Navy Pier and part of Grant Park, blocked a special events ordinance at a Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs & Recreation hearing Tuesday after learning of the scheduling snafu.
“This was a planning disaster,” Reilly told The Daily Line. “So to give a blank check to the administration for the special events for this year without these explanations, I think would be irresponsible. I think the next mayor should make this decision, not the lame duck.”
Reilly did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The Mayor’s Office did not immediately return a request for comment.
Ald. Nick Sposato (38th), committee chair, told Block Club he agrees with Reilly the incoming administration should decide when and where to hold the Taste.
“I would be pretty pissed if all this stuff was going on in my ward with … nobody consulting me about it,” Sposato said.
The committee chair said Reilly caught him in the elevator before Tuesday’s meeting to plead his case to delay the vote.
“He’s just like, look, I’m not happy about this. There’s just too much going on, a crazy weekend when police resources and other resources [are limited] and I’m asking you if you can hold it,” Sposato said. “I called IGA and I’m like… Brendan… he has some concerns. And they’re like, oh, yeah we feel these are legitimate concerns…so we held it.”
It’s unknown how long the vote will be held, Sposato said.
A spokesperson for the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, which organizes the Taste of Chicago, said in an email statement they “are finalizing details for 2023.” But it is unknown how today’s delay in committee will affect that.
“Taste of Chicago is a beloved summertime tradition that is indeed happening this year. We are finalizing details for 2023 and will be announcing dates and locations for DCASE’s signature summer events in the coming weeks,” spokesperson Madeline Long said.
This is a developing story.
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