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Grant Park’s stinky south lawn | It happened here

Lollapalooza concertgoers were rocked by an overpowering odor.
Photograph: Max Herman
By Rebecca Guterman and Jake Malooley |

In the swampy, sloppy wake of Lollapalooza’s unprecedented evacuation as severe thunderstorms rolled in August 4, Grant Park’s south lawn became a mud pit that some adventurous concertgoers treated like a Slip’N Slide. Others were rocked—and not by the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers. A foul odor permeated the vicinity of the Red Bull Soundstage in Hutchinson Field. No, the source wasn’t the unshowered masses.

The sunken field of baseball diamonds south of Buckingham Fountain between Balbo Drive and Roosevelt Road “has more spots with poor drainage” than anywhere else in Grant Park, says Park District spokeswoman Marta Juaniza. After the intense rain, she explains, dirty, stagnant puddles were heated by the sun, giving off what could politely be described as eau de poo. (To absorb the mini pools, the fest’s crew spread Turface, a pebbled, kitty litter–like product.)

A crew member of festival producer C3 Presents, Gary Wilson, blames the foul stench on the park’s fowl. “It’s the goose shit that makes it stink!” he said as the Lolla cleanup began last week. “When it rains, the water reactivates the dried shit, and the sun bakes it. I’m from Austin, Texas, and it’s the same nitrogen smell you get from the bat guano underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge.” Consider that, kids, the next time you’re overcome by the urge to do a face-plant at Lolla.

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