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'MONTROSE HARBOR' THE NEW MANTRA FOR ROCKS PARTY
by Karen Hawkins
2001-06-27

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Word of mouth seems to have effectively spread the word about the Belmont Rocks event's move to Montrose Harbor, as thousands streamed to the new location Sunday.

Organizers said that by 7 p.m.-;shortly after the Parade's end-;there were 6,000 people at the Harbor. Crowds of revelers gathered around the main stage and sound system on Cricket Hill, wandering the grounds and cooking on grills around dozens of tents.

Belmont Rocks Coordinating Committee President Michael O'Connor said there were no problems and that the park district and police were very cooperative.

Concerns about the event's safety and success had mounted in the weeks leading up to Pride because of the circumstances around its move from Belmont.

The event's park district permit for Belmont was revoked in March at the request of Ald. Bernie Hansen ( 44th Ward ) , who complained in a letter to Park District General Superintendent David Doig that non-Pride events draw "unruly and raucous people into the neighborhood who have shown a blatant disregard for the residents of my ward and their property."

Montrose Harbor is in Helen Shiller's ward, and she attended the event Sunday.

Some community members indicated that they did not intend to go quietly from Belmont and that they would be setting up there as they always had. The parking lot was set to be closed and used as a staging area for police, but the picnic grounds were open.

Electronic signs along Lake Shore Drive directed people to Montrose, where a steady stream of cars and pedestrians flowed.

Even with a public relations campaign, some participants complained that they didn't know about the move to Montrose and had parked their cars south of Belmont to avoid traffic. After the parade, they said they found themselves walking even farther north to Montrose.

"This is some Harriet Tubman bullshit," said one participant who asked not to be identified, as she watched a crowd of people walk up the bike path to Montrose. "Slavery is over, but is Montrose our new Canada?"

Despite the controversy, there was widespread approval for Montrose.

"It's bigger," said Tiffany Ray Doxie, who had arrived at the Harbor at 8:30 a.m. with a tent and grill. "It's a lot more room."

Officials attending the event included Shiller, State Rep. Connie Howard and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky.


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