Evacuated Lollapalooza attendees take shelter at DePaul Center

When DePaul student Josue Ortiz heard Lollapalooza was evacuating at about 2:30 p.m., he looked up at the blue skies and held down his spot for George Ezra, momentarily. But as he, along with the 100,000 other attendees were corralled out, he had one band on his mind: Twenty One Pilots, who were slotted to play at 4:30 p.m.

“I have tickets to the aftershow, but some of my friends don’t,” Ortiz, who had planned on bringing 20 friends to their set, said. “This was all of our first times seeing them.”

Though Lollapalooza organizers set aside three emergency shelters at the Grant and Millennium Park garages, like many attendees Ortiz sought shelter elsewhere. For some this meant local bars and restaurants, but for him, it was the nearest place that made sense as a student: DePaul Center.

This isn’t the first time the building has been used as a makeshift shelter, said Public Safety officer Frank Belizzi. Many took refuge during Lollapalooza’s 2012 storm and evacuation, as well. As dozens of dirt-caked and sunburned students and non-students lined the edges of the ground floor atrium, he said Public Safety would only disperse the crowd if the building reached capacity.

“We are letting (students with non-student friends go upstairs) to use the bathroom, because there is a bathroom problem,” he said.

Chris Hegleson, a senior IT major, was shooed out of Lollapalooza before he had a chance to see even one artist. But after realizing that officials on stage before George Ezra’s set weren’t joking about the storm, he headed to DePaul Center.

“I’m a CDM student, so it just made sense,” he said. “Instead of going to a parking garage, I’ll just come here.”

Though Hegleson tried to make the most of the situation by grabbing a bite to eat and catching up with a few fellow DePaul students, like Ortiz, he was a little upset and looking forward to seeing A$AP Rocky.

Luckily, they didn’t have to wait long to learn their fate. Moments after expressing his fears about missing Twenty One Pilots, Ortiz mouthed to a few friends and his eyes lit up. Organizers were opening up Grant Park at 3:30.

“We’ve got eight minutes (until they let us back in),” he said, hurriedly before dashing off. “I get to see Twenty One Pilots and I have to run to get front row.”