What will Halloween 2018 look like?

Over the past few years the 53rd Street and Harper Avenue corridor has truly been transformed with trendy clothing shops, novelty and chain restaurants, outdoor festivals and concerts – all the things that cater to a younger crowd. And Hyde Park has been promoting it. So there is no mystery that teens show up throughout the year and then in droves on Halloween. Been down 71st Street lately?

No, we do not advertise or invite the chaos and property damage that often occurs during the teens’ Halloween night shenanigans on the revitalized 53rd Street. But due to the neighborhood’s boost in popularity during other parts of the year, young people now know the area is, for most of the time, a fun and safe place to spend time.

In 2016, there was an anonymous posting on a social media site that led teens to 53rd Street on Halloween. The Chicago Police Department reported that about 250 young people (other sources reported that there were up to 1500) turned up on an unprepared community, which led to some trouble, some damage and lots of shock.

Shortly after, the community debate started between the ideas of locking down the area or trying to get the crowd to go to another location or to create a constructive set of activities at 53rd Street.

Earlier this year, a group of community volunteers joined together and developed a few ideas for constructive activities on 53rd Street and Harper Avenue in an attempt to put a stop to the perilous climate that this, apparently now annual, Hyde Park event inspires. Other community leaders took the stance that the teen Halloween marauding must stop all together. While others planned to bus teens from 53rd Street over to Midway Plaisance Park for activities.

Due to division in planning, the bussing idea fell flat and the wide array of activities planned for 53rd Street and Harper Avenue were cut down to a few minor events. (See the letter on this page from Ebony Lucas.) There was minimal teen activity at the Midway and while the reduced level of activities on 53rd Street had some positive impact, it wasn’t as strong against stopping delinquent behavior as it might have been had the “53rd Street Volunteers” and the “Bus Them To Midway Planners” worked in one accord. There were incidents and a few arrests (see story here).

We suggest that since every one is passionate about addressing this issue the community should begin working together now to determine what the neighborhood will do for teens for Halloween 2018.
* Should we work to dissuade teens from coming to the neighborhood by having all businesses close early and barricading all nearby roads that lead to 53rd Street and Harper Avenue?
* Should we continue to be enterprising and support community members’ efforts to provide constructive activities on 53rd Street and Harper Avenue?
* Should we do a combination of shutting down 53rd Street and have busses waiting to take teens to the Midway for activities?
* Should we come up with a new plan entirely?

Why is it our responsibility to plan for teens from other neighborhoods? Who knows! At the moment it just seems to be…

Let’s all face the fact that teens will come to Hyde Park in droves on Halloween and start working together now to plan for Halloween 2018.

Someone needs to lead this effort: The Aldermen?, The South East Chicago Commission?, Special Service Area #61?, The Chamber of Commerce? The Teen Halloween Committee? Who is going to lead?

We bet it will be Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was sitting near the window at A10 on Halloween having dinner.