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Holiday Crowds Cause Chicago Police To Close Some Beach Entrances, Rotating Ramp Closures Along Lake Shore Drive

CHICAGO (CBS) -- If you're heading to the beach to enjoy the sunny Fourth of July weather, you may want to think again.

Around noon, Chicago police tweeted that some city beaches were nearing capacity and that rotating ramp closures were in effect along Lake Shore Drive.

As of 12:30 p.m., beach entrances at Montrose, Foster, Wilson and all beach entrances between Thorndale and Lawrence were closed.

CBS 2's Lauren Victory tweeted that the parking lot at 63rd Street Beach also was blocked off.

But, the beach itself wasn't that crowded.

Georgia "the Snowball Lady" Hampton was hoping for more holiday business.

"They're not letting my customers in," she said.

She's puzzled why officers were sending away cars. They blocked off the beach's parking lot before noon.

"I don't like that. Once the lot is full, they close the gate, but they should open it. If 10 leave, they should let 10 back in," Hampton said.

Perhaps, it's preventative, keeping the calm before the storm since the forecast at the lakefront is for huge crowds later on to watch the fireworks.

At North Avenue Beach, police started checking bags for alcohol and weapons 10 hours before the first sparkler.

It's always under the close watch of Emergency Management crews, but an operations center in the West Loop is supplemented Thursday with an emergency room down the hall.

"Today's one of those days that gets circled on the calendar," said Rich Guidice, executive director of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

That's when Chicago brings in the feds.

The key to a smooth holiday? Communication.

"It's coordination with the National Weather Service. Not only are they coming here today just for today's events, but we have a ring down phone to the National Weather Service. We'll talk to them periodically throughout the day," said Guidice.

OEMC is also monitoring two special mobile command units along the lakefront Thursday.

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