The mayor announces the return of lakeside beaches for the Season Under Open Chicago initiative.
Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Park District announced today that 22 beaches will open this Friday, May 28 for the 2021 season. The return of the beach season is another step forward with Open Chicago, the initiative of the mayor to reopen the city completely and safely. This Friday will mark the first opening of Chicago’s beaches to the public since September 2, 2019, due to COVID-19 health and safety precautions. The 2021 beach season ends on Monday, September 6, 2021.
âAs the weather warms up and our city begins to regain a sense of safe normalcy, the reopening of our beloved lakeside beaches is the perfect way to turn the spring page and get back to our activities. favorite outdoors, âsaid Mayor Lightfoot. âWhile we are delighted that people are returning to our beaches this summer, we encourage everyone to be safe and to continue to get vaccinated. This exciting announcement is the result of the tremendous strides we have made in our efforts to slow and stop the spread of this virus and I urge everyone to keep up the good work so that we can reopen even more of our iconic summer attractions in the near future. “
Under current city guidelines for the Chicago Bridge phase, residents can expect a typical beach experience. With the exception of drinking fountains, which remain closed due to public health advice, all traditional beach equipment will be available.
âWe are delighted to welcome residents and visitors to our beaches,â said Michael Kelly, District Superintendent of Chicago Park. âChicago’s lakefront and beaches are among the city’s most popular summer destinations. We urge bathers to enjoy their visits responsibly by properly disposing of their garbage and respecting the flag system and only entering the water in the presence of lifeguards.
The beaches of Juneway, Roger, Howard and Fargo remain closed to the public due to high lake levels and erosion.
The Chicago Park District will continue to use the flag notification system and interactive web page to display swimming status, water quality, weather data, location information, amenities, directions and historical details on each of the 26 lakeside beach locations and Humboldt Park Beach.
The following flag notification system informs customers of the current state of the beaches:
- Green – Swimming is allowed. The weather conditions are good and the water quality is good.
- Yellow – Swimming is permitted, but caution is required. Weather conditions are unpredictable or bacteria levels are higher than water quality criteria set by the EPA to inform the public.
- red – Swimming is not allowed. The weather conditions are dangerous or the water quality conditions are dangerous.
Additional signage stating âSwim only when lifeguards are on dutyâ was installed on each lifeguard pole last year to reinforce swimming guidelines. Flag poles are also placed on all bathing beaches. Lifeguards will prominently display a red flag at the end of the night to remind guests that swimming is no longer permitted. This flag will remain in place overnight until the start of the next lifeguard shift.
The Park District ensures quality conditions for residents and visitors who frequent the beaches and lakefront by working around the clock to keep 26 miles of lakefront clean during beach season.
As in previous years, the Park District will partner with the University of Illinois at the Chicago School of Public Health using the USEPA rapid test method on all beaches. This method uses the detection of Enterococcus DNA instead of culturing live cells of E. coli bacteria, and reduces the time required for test results from 18-24 hours to just 3-4 hours.
Water quality conditions can change dramatically from day to day; therefore, faster results provide more accurate information for the public and better protection of public health. Beaches will be sampled seven days a week and information will be shared with the public through the Chicago Park District website and social media accounts, a beach hotline, and a color-coded flag system on beaches. Sampling for bacteria levels in water is performed according to criteria established by the EPA. Enterococci are an indicator of the presence of pathogens that could make you sick. The US EPA recommends warning the public when enterococcal bacteria levels are above 1,000 CEC.
It should be noted that the maintenance needs of beaches and recreational activities change with the cyclical levels of the lakes. Customers are encouraged to visit the Park District website for updates.
The Lakeside Dealers will also be returning this year starting Memorial Day weekend. The Chicago Park District is excited to once again welcome over 115 dealerships for the 2021 season, offering a variety of indoor and outdoor dining experiences, water recreation activities, and retail options. Reggie’s on the Beach will return at 63rd Street Beach with upgraded services including expanded second-floor promenade seating and beach equipment rentals.
New concepts are arriving this season at Rainbow Beach and the newly built South Shore Beach House, in addition to the rentals offered on the beach at 57e Street.
In addition to the beaches, other park facilities and opportunities are available. the Lakefront Trail remains open to pedestrians and recreation. The Chicago Park District recently lit the Buckingham Fountain for the first time since 2019 and looks forward to summer programming, including day camp. Registration is in progress. Visit chicagoparkdistrict.com to view and register for summer programs.
Guests are kindly requested to observe the following beach rules:
- Obey lifeguards and swim only when lifeguards are present.
- No drinks, alcohol or smoking on the beach.
- Dispose of food, diapers and other waste properly. Do not feed the birds. Dogs are only allowed in areas reserved for dogs.
- Please put bath diapers on small children.
- Grilling is only allowed in designated areas, and coals should be thrown into red-hot metal containers.
- Keep accessible boardwalks on the beach clear. Cycling, skateboarding or roller skating are not permitted in these areas.
- Access to the Lake Michigan Water Trail for sports such as kayaking, canoeing, and other non-motorized board or paddleboarding sports is permitted at 12th Street Beach. For more information, head over to the rules page and download information about the Lake Michigan water trails.
- Kitesurfing is not permitted at 12th Street Beach; kitesurfing is ONLY allowed at Montrose Beach.
- Swimming is permitted and lifeguards are on duty on all beaches from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., unless otherwise specified.
Beach goers can also access information on the state of swimming by calling the Chicago Park District Beach hotline at 312-74-BEACH, checking chicagoparkdistrict.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for swimming status at each beach.
Admission to Chicago beaches is free. For a list of locations or for more information, visit the Park District website at chicagoparkdistrict.com or call the Beaches and Pools Unit at 773-363-2225.