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Officials suspended Lollapalooza Saturday afternoon and evacuated Grant Park after the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm watch. NBC 5 Christian Farr reports on how Lolla fans reacted to the evacuation.
Lollapalooza will extend Saturday's festival hours this evening to make up for storm delays earlier. Severe thunderstorms rolled through the Chicago area, prompting Lolla's promoters to temporarily suspend the event.
The new closing time will be at 10:30 p.m. and provide C3 Presents, the promoter of Lollapalooza, flexibility in rearranging the music schedule and allow more artists to perform, according to the city's Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
About 60,000 people were evacuated from Grant Park around 3:30 p.m. Saturday and spilled onto Michigan Avenue in hopes of waiting out the storm.
“We want to thank the tens of thousands of festival goers, staff, and artists who calmly and safely exited from Grant Park today,” said partner of C3 Presents Charlie Jones. “We also applaud and thank the City of Chicago for their cooperation and commitment to making Lolla a safe and enjoyable experience for all. Once again Chicago has come through and we’re proud to call the city our partner.”
While the evacuation was peaceful and orderly, not everyone was happy about it.
"We wanted to see B.O.B. and we were literally third row in, and of course B.O.B. isn't going to show up, but the rain is," said one frustrated festival goer after being evacuated.
"Yeah I'm upset because it's my first Lolla," said 19-year-old Nina Kuzelka of Chicago, who was hanging out at Perry's stage when word came down about the evacuation. "I want to see Calvin Harris and Red Hot Chili Peppers tonight, so hopefully they let us back in."
Evacuation announcements were broadcast over speakers, posted on signs and tweeted on official Twitter account.
"ATTENTION: Serious weather is about to hit Grant Park. ALL festival goers must evacuate IMMEDIATELY. Head to our 3 evacuation locations NOW," the official Lollapalooza Twitter account tweeted about the same time.
Thunder and lightning accompanied the rains that poured down shortly after everyone was evacuated. The skies finally cleared around 5:30 p.m. and officials worked with the city to reopen Grant Park for Lollapalooza.
Fans who waited were rewarded when the decision was made to reopen Grant Park for the festival.
"Chicago: #lolla is reopening now,"
C3 Presents released its severe weather plan Saturday morning in anticipation of the storm. There are 5 real-time weather stations on the grounds along with wind gauges on stage to help monitor conditions, the release stated.
“Our first priority is always the safety of our fans, staff and artists,” said Communications Director for C3 Presents, the promoter of Lollapalooza, Shelby Meade. “We regret having to suspend any show, but safety always comes first.”