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Grateful Dead fans ask to camp out in Chicago for Soldier Field shows

Fans of the Grateful Dead want a campout style atmosphere during three 50th anniversary concerts in July at Soldier Field, but whether the lakefront venue will allow it is another question.

Jeremy Davis started an online petition that had about 8,000 signatures by Saturday asking that overnight parking be allowed in lots surrounding the stadium south of downtown Chicago.

The Florida man said it would keep the anticipated tens of thousands of fans from crowding downtown streets and reduce traffic congestion. He also said that fans eager for what could be one of the band’s last shows óre willing to pay more and it could be an economic opportunity for Chicago.

It’s long been a Deadhead tradition to camp out for shows, Davis said, with fans bringing RVís to concerts.

“It’s something that we’ve been doing for so long,” said Davis, who works in finance and also makes jewelry sold at concerts “This is almost a no brainer.”

Officials in Chicago said many factors have to be considered, among them safety

“While we understand the desires of some of the community, this is something that requires a cooperative evaluation from several entities to make a determination,” said Soldier Field spokesman Luca Serra.

For the last decade, Chicago’s lakefront Grant Park has hosted Lollapalooza, at which dozens of musical artists perform over several days.

For Davis, the Grateful Dead’s Chicago concerts during the July 4 holiday weekend could be a meaningful and final opportunity to see other fans. Several original band members are reuniting for the “Fare Thee Well” concerts.  The band gave its final performances with lead singer Jerry Garcia in Chicago in July 1995. He died later that year.