To the Editor:
For the last two Halloweens, hundreds of teens have flocked to 53rd Street on Halloween. And it’s hard to argue with their reasons: Our neighborhood boasts retail and safety (across Chicago, 17 were killed on Halloween in 2016).
Last Halloween, we community members put on orange shirts and, as chaperones, joined teens on 53rd Street. This year, now as part of the Blue Gargoyle, we community members are again making ourselves part of the solution. We have planned a chaperoned teen Halloween party with DJ Ydot Gdot, to make space for teens just off 53rd Street — space the Promontory has generously donated. Youth and adult volunteers and donations are needed for that night (TeenHalloween.weebly.com)!
Moreover, it is clear that our neighborhood cannot engage so many teens in such public space without our civic establishments’ cooperation. Fortunately, following last year’s volunteer outpouring, some officials have recognized the need for an outdoor street festival on Halloween night. They will close the street to cars and engage businesses for a “family” event, “Treatin’ on 53rd.” They want residents who want on 53rd Street on Halloween register in advance.
Yet we are deeply concerned that this event conspicuously omits activities targeting the very group prompting all this – teens. This does not bode well for the safety or welcome of teens, businesses, neighbors, families, or children (for whom that family event seems targeted).
Teens are our children, too, and our next generation. They belong at the center of our community life. They certainly should not be ignored in the hopes that they just go away — for their and everyone’s sake. We can and must do better still, this year and going forward.
Teens on 53rd committee