Grant Park will host a sprawling Election Night rally for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, an event that has sparked huge civic interest -- and many lingering questions.
HOW AND WHEN TO GET THERE
Q: What's the best way to get there?
A: The Chicago Transit Authority and Metra are running extra trains and buses into downtown starting Tuesday afternoon, and boosting service after the rally to get everyone home. The CTA says it will run "as long as it takes." Metra's schedule officially ends at 1 a.m., but it seems unlikely they'd strand people if the rally runs late. Get off at any train stop in the Loop, and walk east to Grant Park. Check bus routes at www.transitchicago.com.
Q: Where is the entrance?
A: The only way in -- whether or not you have a ticket -- is on Congress Parkway at Michigan Avenue. Expect a long line.
Q: What time does it start?
A: Organizers will let people in at 8:30 p.m. The permit for the event runs until 1 a.m., but it may run later if necessary.
Q: Will there be parking?
A: The city will begin enforcing a massive street parking ban beginning in the Tuesday evening rush hours. It affects all streets between Cermak Road and the Chicago River on the north, and from Lake Michigan to the Kennedy and Dan Ryan Expressways on the west. Parking garages will be open downtown -- including the ones at Grant Park -- but at steep prices, and they likely will fill up fast. Extra parking will be provided at Chicago's airports, where CTA trains can be boarded for downtown. More Park-and-Ride lots will be open at several stops on CTA train routes.
HOW TICKETED AND NON-TICKETED EVENTS WILL WORK
Q: I HAVE a ticket. What should I bring and not bring?
A: Print and bring your ticket and a photo ID. You'll be directed where to go at the entrance on Congress. You WON'T be allowed to bring chairs, coolers, alcohol, strollers or any bag bigger than a woman's purse. No mention was made of cell phones, cameras or handheld camcorders, but they're probably okay if they're small. Children can come without a ticket if they're small enough to carry, said Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communication executive director Ray Orozco. But it will be standing room only at an event that lasts several hours.
Q: I'm the guest of a ticket holder. What do I have to do?
A: The Obama campaign wasn't clear, but good sense says to follow the same instructions as the ticket holder. And plan on at least arriving with them.
Q: I DON'T have a ticket. What should I bring and not bring?
A: There are fewer restrictions for people at the non-ticketed event -- you can bring a knapsack full of snacks, for instance. Still, you can't bring a chair or cooler, can't have alcohol, and should plan on a standing-room-only event, too.
Q: What if I signed up for a ticket but didn't get an email from the Obama campaign?
A: If you didn't get an email from the campaign, you didn't get a ticket.
Q: What will I be able to see, and what amenities will be available?
A: If you get into the ticketed event, you'll be able to see Obama on stage with Lake Michigan and the Museum Campus in the background. If you don't have a ticket, you'll be able to watch the event on at least one Jumbotron television in Butler Field. Portable toilets will be available -- including those for people with disabilities. Vendors will sell bottled water at the non-ticketed site and slightly-more-upscale pizza, hot dogs and hot chocolate at the ticketed event. There won't be seats at either.
Q: Who's paying for this?
A: The city and Obama campaign both say the campaign will pick up the tab, except for the Secret Service protection given to the candidate and his family.
Q: What if violence breaks out?
A: The Secret Service, police and Chicago emergency officials say they have taken precautions to avoid this. If something happens, however, they will open all exits from the park and move everyone away quickly.
Q: What if Obama loses?
A: Anything can happen. The Obama campaign says the senator will still address the crowd from Grant Park. Police say they're prepared for crowd control and to face tens of thousands of very disappointed supporters.
Q: Will I get in?
A: If you don't have a ticket, maybe not. The city has said it will start turning people away from the non-ticketed event if the crowd seems to big or unruly. Still, there's no shortage of election watching parties in Chicago neighborhoods. And a list of downtown events can be found on Metromix.com.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times