Monday, 08 August 2011 09:32

Wall Jumpers and Evangelicals: A look at what goes on outside Lollapalooza gates

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Members of Hare Krishna Temple dance in front of an evangelical group Members of Hare Krishna Temple dance in front of an evangelical group

Rock music isn't the first thing attendees of Lollapalooza hear as they approach the festival gates. Instead, some of the first sounds come in the form of bells, and chants coming out of a loudspeaker.

Attendees must pass two separate groups with a similar goal: to spread God's love. However, each group shows their version of love in very different ways.

Hare Krishna Temple is the first group that comes into vision for Lolla attendees. Barefoot and clothed in flowing skirts, pants and skirts, members of the ChicagoTemple communicate their message through dance.

"We're dancing in ecstasy for the lord," said Pranesvari d.d., a member of the Temple. "We are here to give the holy name to other people, give the joy of loving God to everyone else around us."

But viewers are also distracted by another group --specifically a man with a megaphone, speaking to the members of the Hare Krishna Temple, using adjectives such as "sinners" and "hell-bound."

"We're not from any organization," said Will P., who held a sign that said "The time is fulfilled, repent ye and believe the gospel." "We're just a bunch of friends who come down here to preach because a lot of people come down here."

He says 2011 is his third year coming to Lollapalooza to preach. The group of friends hold signs with Bible verses and pass out business cards that say, "Are you a good American?" on the front.

"It's a good crowd and there's a lot of young people," he says on why the group comes to Lollapalooza every year. "A lot of young people are brainwashed into thinking that ... I don't know, you probably ask 10 different people and you'll get 10 different answers. There's a lot of false information out there -- especially about Jesus Christ."

A good percentage of the focus, however, was aimed toward the Hare Krishna group.

"They're hell-bound, they're on their way to hell," Will P. said when asked why Hare Krishna was targeted in particular. "They're believing in something that's not true -- they believe they're going to be reincarnated, and the bible never talks about that ... We wouldn't be doing them any favors by not telling the truth."

In response to Will P. and his group, the members of the Hare Krishna Temple kept dancing.

"It is more about joy," Pranesvari d.d. said.

As the Hare Krishnas danced their praise, Will P. and his friends preached their purpose to the mostly unresponsive throng.

"The process is very joyful and it is used in our daily lives," she said. "We respect this mantra every day."

But clashing religions aren't the biggest problem Lollapalooza staff and volunteers have to face. Security in particular has to handle fans wanting to get into the festival.

Rickey Levy of Monterrey Security has dealt with everything from bribes of $400 to wall jumpers.

"It's a lot," Levy says of the bribes, "but nothing is worth your job. I love what I do."

He admits readily that the commotion of clashing religions has nothing on the intensity that comes with the wall jumpers.

".... they jump and take off," he says. "While you're chasing after them, others will be jumping. We'll get a whole crowd. [Friday], we got 30 at one time."

For 2011 -- also the 20th anniversary for Lollapalooza -- security has nearly doubled in comparison to previous years. Festival attendees must go through three checkpoints in order to get completely through festival gates, while fences are doubled up in order to prevent jumpers.

"[I Love] the action. There's never a dull moment," Levy said. "You get to meet new people, and that's a good thing."

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