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Local News

Joliet prison fundraiser slated for Aug. 25

The planning committee for an opening event at the old Joliet prison has scheduled a fundraiser for up to 3,000 people on Aug. 25.

The event to be called “The Great Joliet Prison Break-In” will include live music and a party in the prison yard.

“We are doing a festival inside the walls of the prison,” said Kelly Baltas, a member of the event committee. “The festival is going to invite people inside the gates of the old Joliet prison. We are going to have food trucks. There is going to be live music. We are going to have cold drinks. There will be a beer tent.”

The price of the festival is tentatively set at $35 a ticket.

Tickets are not available, and Baltas said the committee still is firming up details of the event. But the number of tickets will be limited.

“We are only selling 3,000 tickets,” Baltas said. “It is going to be a limited amount because, one, this is the first time we have done it. Also, we are very aware of parking.”

It is likely shuttle vehicles will be needed to bring people from parking areas away from the prison, she said.

Proceeds from the event will go toward prison restoration.

The city leased the prison from the state in December in an effort to get some control of the facility, which had been left to deteriorate since it closed in 2002. Since December, unions, contractors and people from the community have volunteered to help clean up and restore the prison.

Baltas said the committee still is trying to determine if it will be possible to do tours of any prison buildings on the day of the festival.

Also being explored is the possibility of bringing in actor Dan Aykroyd for a meet-and-greet. Aykroyd co-starred with the late John Belushi in the movie, “The Blues Brothers,” which often is associated with the prison because the first scene was shot at Joliet Correctional Center.

The event is seen as a grand opening for the prison, but the Joliet Area Historical Museum plans to organize tours at the facility before August.

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