The remaining members of the Grateful Dead are reuniting for a 50th anniversary concert event over the three nights of the Fourth of July weekend in Chicago, at Soldier Field, according to the Chicago Sun Times and other sources, continuing the iconic band’s “long strange trip.” The role of founding member and vocalist, Jerry Garcia, will be filled by Phish vocalist and guitarist, Trey Anastasio.
One major potential problem that the city of Chicago faces is where to house the thousands of Grateful Dead fans, or Deadheads, who are expected to flock to the July holiday concerts. The majority of the Deadhead fans would love to be able to camp out during the long weekend, and enjoy the last time that the remaining Grateful Dead members might perform together in a party-like communal atmosphere.
Securing such a location has proven to be somewhat of a challenge, though people like Jeremy Davis, of Florida, are trying to come up with a satisfactory location. According to the Chicago Sun Times, Davis had already gotten the signatures of approximately 8,000 people on an online petition by Saturday with the aim of allowing people to park their vehicles overnight throughout the holiday weekend in parking lots that surround Soldier Field along Lake Michigan.
In the opinion of Davis, if this overnight parking is allowed, the tens of thousands of Grateful Dead fans anticipated to be attending the three concerts will have a place to camp out. Also, allowing them to park and camp out in the parking lots could ease traffic congestion and the fans would likely be willing to pay a little extra money for the privilege, which would help to boost Chicago’s economy.
On the downside, the city of Chicago would have to maintain a high degree of coordination for the event with the fire department and the police to ensure the safety of all of the fans camping out in the parking lots. Soldier Field spokesman Luca Serra has stated that the ability to maintain the safety of the Grateful Dead fans is key in the decision to either deny or allow Deadheads to camp in the parking lots.
Allowing the Deadheads to camp out in the parking lots would potentially result in the firemen and policemen involved having to paid more overtime. According to Luca Serra, the city will be evaluating the pros and cons of allowing Deadheads to camp in the parking lots over the next several weeks.
The city of Chicago has a history of allowing people to camp out during a weekend while they attend concerts. For instance, Lollopalooza has been hosted at Chicago’s lakefront Grant Park, where multiple musical acts have performed over several days.
The three concerts are being called the Fare Thee Well concerts. In 1995, the Grateful Dead performed its final concerts with lead singer and guitarist, Jerry Garcia. He passed away later that year, in August.
For many Grateful Dead Fans, the ones who try to attend as many of the band’s concerts as they possibly can, being with their friends and fellow Deadhead fans is like a family reunion or get-together, an event that they eagerly anticipate, often for months in advance. With Jerry Garcia now dead, and the band only being resurrected, so to speak, for the three-day July Fourth holiday weekend, fans like Jeremy Davis would love to see the petition approved. Davis works in finance, but he also makes and sells jewelry at the Grateful Dead concerts.
The Grateful Dead will be continuing the band’s “long strange trip,” this coming July Fourth weekend by giving three concerts at Chicago’s Soldier Field. Fans of the Grateful Dead would love to be able to camp out over the holiday weekend, but a decision has not yet been arrived at if their wish will be granted. Tens of thousands of fans are expected to attend the three concerts.
Written By Douglas Cobb