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First-Person: Running From the Storm at Taste

Joliet Patch Editor Dawn Aulet was at the REO Speedwagon concert at the Taste of Joliet Friday night, and witnessed as the storm sent attendees fleeing from Joliet Memorial Stadium.

I like REO Speedwagon. Favorite song? Can't Fight This Feeling. What I could not fight on Friday night, though, was the urge to outright run to my car to keep me and my kids safe.

The storm came in suddenly. For those who had been watching the weather forecast on their phones, they had a headstart. There was lightning in the sky, but when the rain began, it was driving and the wind was, well, frightening.

I'm sure I am not the only one who had thoughts of the concert in August 2011, where the stage collapsed at a state fair and four people died.

For my part, I exited the east gate. Thanks to Plainfield Patch editor Shannon Antinori, who was at the show with me and had a good eye on the storm on her phone, we were ahead of the crowds. But as I and my two children made a mad dash to the car, the storm took a turn for the worse.

What was just windy, like a storm blowing in, became gusting. Plastic grocery bags literally swirled in the wind. I was beginning to get a small taste of what it might have been like to go through something like the Plainfield tornado.

We got to the car and got out of the parking lot. Then, we were stopped at the intersection of Jefferson and Infantry. The poor Joliet police officer was trying to direct traffic while being battered by the driving rain.

Then, multiple fire engines and ambulances headed toward the entrance into Inwood Athletic Center off Jefferson. I don't know what happened.

Being one of the lucky ones to get to their vehicles rather quickly, I was able to observe the unlucky ones, who were running in front of vehicles that had reduced visibility as they tried to get to their own cars.

All of a sudden, the lights in the surrounding businesses, including the Thornton gas station, went black. The power went out. I ended up taking a right onto Jefferson because going west or straight on Infantry seemed impossible.

Like many others in Joliet and the surrounding area, we are without power. But I am grateful to be safe, even if it is in candlelight.

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Kathe Malinowski June 30, 2012 at 04:50 AM
Heard the ferris wheel tipped at the fest.
Karen Sorensen June 30, 2012 at 06:03 AM
I was just out there and can tell you it is still standing. Now whether is was leaning over in the wind but didn't fall, I cannot tell you.
Debbie Craig Greene June 30, 2012 at 12:56 PM
I was working the Vendor/VIP East Gate entrance last night. All is well. With all the chaos of folks trying to get out of the wind and rain NOT ONE INJURY was reported to the Police or Fire Department. I didn't see or hear anything about the ferris wheel tipping and it was still standing when I left. My one regret is that we didn't get to hear REO sing RIDING THE STORM OUT! But I am very happy that they and all the fans were able to exit the stadium BEFORE the second storm hit. - Debbie Greene, Superintendent Joliet Park District.
Tom Cooper June 30, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Being at the fest, I think the Park District and the police handled this situation well. I was sitting at the bleachers when the announcement was made, I made my way under waited for the storm to end and went to my car. The lights were on under the bleachers,if anyone got injured, fell etc-it was due to others carlessness-not the Park District's and police.
Nancy Connolly July 01, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Guess they did not live up to the "Ridin' the storm out"! Lol!!

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