Taste of Chicago scheduled to reopen today

The Taste of Chicago will reopen today after it closed for the first time since 1980 yesterday.

The heavy rain has washed away the good times on Saturday.

Bride-to-be Elizabeth Peterson was supposed to be the party girl today, and the Taste was to be the center of her delicious universe with a heaping of special T-shirts. She and her friends had come to the Taste for her bachelorette party.

“I was very excited about trying all different kinds of new foods that I’ve never heard of before, and unfortunately they closed it as soon as we got here,” Peterson said.

Elizabeth’s is one of thousands of stories of people coming downtown to indulge in the Taste only to be left with a stomachache. They came by the busload, they came by way of packed trains and some drove themselves.

“I missed the Taste Thursday, I missed the Taste Friday and I was determined to come today,” festival-goer Shawn Coleman said. But when he did come, he was disappointed.

“I can’t get anything to eat,” he said. “I got to pay $20 to $30 for parking, and I’m still hungry!”

Some would-be Taste-goers even flew in from out-of-state.

“The rain kind of came in, so it kind of ruined our plans a little bit,” a visitor from San Antonio said.

The decision to close is all about safety, said Cultural Affairs and Special Events commissioner Michelle Boone.

“We love presenting Taste of Chicago annually,” she said. “But we cannot do that at the expense of safety for visitors or residents.”

Originally the city’s plan was to delay the opening from 10 a.m. to noon but then the event was cancelled at the last minute. An advisory from the Office of Emergency Management and Communications cited “excessive rainfall and flooding on the festival grounds” at Grant Park.

With the closing of the Taste, scores of city employees just stood around and pretty much did nothing while others were sent home for the day with a cut in pay.

“They told us to get there early because of the rain. We get here, and they told us to go back home,” an employee, Deon, said. “It’s a big disappointment.”

The festival will reopen today at 10 a.m.

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