Things improved the farther you went from Taste. Sure, millions are milling all around you. Perhaps the concert and fireworks show will be worth the hassle. I intended to meet up with a new friend, but that fell apart at the last minute. So I wandered alone, quickly realizing that I am THE LAST SINGLE MAN IN CHICAGO.
And only in the heart of a city would you find people laying on sidewalks inches from heavy traffic. Or the absolutely massive police force, with a police helicopter creating a massive “thump thump thump” noise throughout the night. And in a beautiful display of the economic classes coming together for one evening, you find the rich boarding their boats on Lake Michigan and the poor-er standing on shore with envious eyes, waving and muttering.
I have trouble finding a clear patch of ground. I finally find a curb to crouch on, and the show begins. Cue music, then cue fireworks. It’s good, but nothing above the stuff you’d find in any city on Independence Day. After blowing up a hundred thousand dollars, the rain begins. And this is when trouble explodes.
Several million spent all afternoon and evening converging on the lakefront area. But several million now intended to leave simultaneously. Soon there’s a massive sea of people flowing toward the Loop, a one-way human deluge that does not care if you’re crippled, handicapped or young. Add light rain, and you have a frustrated mob.
All streets in downtown are vacant of cars, but completely covered with people. It’s a scene that will never be repeated unless a massive disaster happens in Chicago. Babies wailing and thugs yelling, we all head toward the multi-colored lines of the Chicago Transit Authority. I’m aiming to enter the Blue Line subway, a dangerous place when crowded. If too many people are allowed below the street, the crowd will literally push people onto the tracks to their deaths.
So we’re held in a massive group on the street level, waiting our turn. In the rain. And in the heat of the night.