With thousands of pilgrims coming to Maryville on Wednesday and Thursday, Des Plaines police have issued a traffic alert and designated off-site parking areas to deal with the crowds and congestion.
Knowing that the Des Plaines shrine is the only one outside of Mexico City where worshippers can satisfy their promises to the Virgin Mary, Police Chief William Kushner and his staff look on it as a destination for thousands of worshippers and consequently they came up with a deployment strategy to make the site accessible.
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"Since this is a religious observance, and the individuals that come to the shrine are, by and large, a very peaceful group of people, we're not worried about an unruly crowd," Kushner said. "Frankly, our biggest concern is traffic congestion and keeping the many pedestrians who are attending the event safe." They will close Central Road between River and Wolf roads, between 3 p.m. Wednesday and 6 a.m. Thursday. Police will re-close Central Road again from 6-10 p.m. Thursday as people are leaving.
Police also expect River Road to be congested in both directions continually, beginning Wednesday afternoon and all day Thursday.
The Rev. Marco Mercado, rector of the Our Lady of Guadalupe shrine, expects people to begin arriving at around 3 p.m. Wednesday. There will be limited parking on the Maryville campus.
Instead, off-site parking will be available in several locations:
• Palwaukee Plaza, Milwaukee Avenue and River Road, Prospect Heights
• St. Emily's Church, 1400 E. Central Road, Mount Prospect
• St. Paul Chong Hasang Korean Church, Wolf Road and Dursey Lane in Des Plaines
• Northwest Assembly of God Church, 900 N. Wolf Road, Mount Prospect
• Oakton Community College, 1600 E. Golf Road in Des Plaines.