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Huge crowds, anti-war protesters flock to Air and Water Show


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Updated: September 20, 2012 10:21AM

Anti-war protesters were among the large crowds of people gathered along the lakefront Saturday for the annual Air and Water Show, which they accused of being a promotional tool for the U.S. Army.

Holding demonstrations at North Avenue Beach, the protesters dropped to the ground and pretended to be dead every time a bullhorn sounded an explosion noise.

The point, said demonstrator Matthew McLoughlin, was to illustrate that the fighter jets performing aerial tricks for the millions of expected spectators this weekend are used as weapons by the military.

“Indisputably, the Air and Water Show is the biggest day for military recruiting all year in Chicago,” McLoughlin said in a statement. “Our counter-recruiters will be there to say: the warcraft put on display today are precisely what we should be organizing against.”

Protesters were also staging “die-ins,” in which people dressed as drones would pretend to bomb demonstrators wearing targets on their backs.

As McLoughlin and his colleagues took part in their political theater, others watched the U.S. Navy Blue Angels zip through the air in their F/A-18 Hornets.

A clear blue sky and temperatures in the mid-70s welcomed those who went to the show on Saturday.

But city officials warned that Sunday’s showgoers might not be as lucky. The National Weather Service’s Chicago office said there would be a 40 percent chance of rain on Sunday after 1 p.m.

The head of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications said the agency, which oversees the 911 call center, will be closely monitoring the annual event.

“As millions of people gather along Chicago’s lakefront to enjoy the festivities this weekend, it is important that they stay aware of their surroundings and prepare for any possible change in weather conditions,” said OEMC Executive Director Gary W. Schenkel. “As it does for every large-scale event, our operations center will work closely monitor the festival to ensure the safety of the public.”

The Chicago Transit Authority has increased service on various train lines during the event.

Trains running on the Blue, Brown, Red and Orange lines will include more cars before and after the annual show that continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the transit agency said.

The CTA said it urges commuters to leave early and allow for extra travel time.

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