Deadheads coming to Chicago in July are asking the city to allow them to camp in the lots near Solider Field while attending the 50th anniversary Grateful Dead concert.
NBC News reported last Friday that the four living members of the Grateful Dead have announced plans for a three-night event on Fourth of July weekend at Soldier Field to commemorate the band’s 50th anniversary, saying that the show will be the original members’ “last ever performance together.”
Miami resident, Jeremy Davis, who plans to travel to the concert in his RV, wants to carry on the tradition of his Deadhead “family” by camping in the parking lot while attending the concert. The practice started decades ago when the Grateful Dead was touring regularly and fans would set up “tent cities” in parking lots near the arenas and stadiums where they were performing.
“It’s tradition,” Davis told the Chicago Tribune. “For these last days, it’s important for the family to be together.”
Davis has started a Change.org petition asking the city of Chicago to open up the lots for overnight parking, and so far the petition has gathered over 8,000 signatures.
In the petition, Davis cites the hazard of driving over the holiday weekend as a reason the city should provide camping areas in Soldier Field lots for the “Grateful Dead community.”
“The Grateful Dead is widely regarded as one of the most patriotic bands in all of American history and this 50th Anniversary show during the July 4th weekend will be truly an All American event – inclusive of all races, tribes, and traditions. The America built by all of us together.
“It would be the safest thing for the city of Chicago and the Deadhead community to allow overnight camping.”
Davis, who says he would be willing to work with the city to accommodate the Grateful Dead fans, feels the popularity of the petition, which he has done little to advertise except to post it on Facebook and in online Deadhead community forums, proves how many fans just want a safe and fun weekend.
He says that not only would overnight parking be a safer option for the thousands of Grateful Dead fans, but it would also benefit the city by keeping them off roadways and public transportation – as well as offering the opportunity for people to spend more money in downtown businesses.
Soldier Field spokesperson, Luca Serra, said that the petition is being taken into consideration, but opening the parking lots for a longer period than usual would require cooperation from several city services — such as police and fire departments — that may already be busy over that weekend.
“This evaluation is going to take place over the next several weeks to ultimately make a determination that is in the best interest and the safety of the city and the people coming to the shows,” he said.
The concert isn’t the only event planned to celebrate the iconic band’s 50th anniversary. The Inquisitr reports that Martin Scorsese is producing a Grateful Dead documentary to be released later this year.
[Image via Jack Bricker/YouTube]