Silver Room Block Party will engage security and incentivize the use of CTAs as it expects 15,000 attendees at Oakwood Beach

OAKWOOD — People attending this year’s Silver Room Block Party might want to take the bus.

The team behind the big South Side festival – including Silver Room owner Eric Williams – is urging the 15,000 expected attendees to use public transport to reduce traffic and parking problems so neighbors aren’t as affected , organizers said during a Wednesday night meeting with neighbors and Ald. Sophie King (4th).

The popular festival will take place July 16-17 in Oakwood Beach; he is moving there to accommodate a larger crowd after years in downtown Hyde Park. But neighbors have already been frustrated by congestion and noise issues from a nearby pedestrian bridge, so organizers have sought to win them over by explaining how they will try to prevent traffic, litter and safety issues from spread over residential blocks.

Organizers will reach out to the CTA and Uber so fewer people drive in, but they will also try to secure nearby parking, including the McCormick Place parking lot on 31st Street and two others near Woodson Elementary and Monumental Baptist Church, a said Tiffany Judkins, who serves as the team’s traffic and parking coordinator.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Eric Williams, owner of the Silver Room, speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for Neighborhood Opportunity Fund recipient Bronzeville Winery as part of the city’s INVEST South/West initiative on April 28, 2021.

The team is working on a map of locations to share with attendees, and five to eight shuttles from various points — including Bronzeville Winery — will bring people to Oakwood Beach. Attendees will enter the festival just north of the 39th Street entrance.

There may also be incentives for people who cycle to the event, with organizers exploring the possibility of offering a free item to those who go without a car this weekend. Bicycle parking will be available near the site, Pickett said.

A total of 150 security guards will take care of the Block Party, with a team guarding the site overnight. That number could increase, depending on the final number of attendees, which will be capped at 20,000, Judkins said. She said they will contact the police department and the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications for additional resources.

The temporary closure of the 41st Street Pedestrian Bridge may also be on the table, though organizers fear it could disrupt residents not attending the festival. Still, security will be posted at the entrance to the bridge, Judkins said.

As with previous festivals, volunteers will help direct people through designated exits to discourage loitering in front of people’s homes. Two security patrols will contribute to these efforts.

Festival cleanup will be handled by a maintenance company which the organizers have contracted to collect rubbish inside the venue and nearby residential blocks. People leaving the Block Party will be asked to finish eating and drinking before leaving to keep trash out of residential areas, co-organizer Kenneth Pickett said.

De’Avlin Olguin, who lives near the site, said he thought the meeting was productive but still had concerns about safety and parking. Olguin and his neighbors have asked King for help easing the traffic jams and other nuisances that summer brings, including groups of bikers crossing the pedestrian bridge.

Olguin said he wanted organizers to already have commitments from city agencies and that he planned to block streets so only residents could pass.

“We are delighted, but we still have reservations about how the area will be patrolled,” Olguin said. “We will wait to see what happens.”

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