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Halloween on Halsted Parade Over? Organizers Want Street Fair Instead

By Serena Dai | March 14, 2013 7:44am

LAKEVIEW — No more Halloween parade on Halsted?

That's what organizers of the 16-year-old event proposed to Triangle Neighbors Wednesday night. Instead, Northalsted Business Alliance organizer Nirmalpal Sachdev pitched a street party on Halsted, with the festivities bookended by stages for live entertainment and a costume contest at Roscoe Street and Cornelia Avenue.

The parade has gotten more expensive, and Sachdev and co-organizer Sandra Klein have looked to revamp it every year. Profits from Northalsted Business Alliance members go to Triangle Neighbors and Space Park, 815 W. Roscoe St., and the parade has been breaking even or skimming the operational costs, Sachdev said.

"It's significantly cheaper," Sachdev said of the party plan at the meeting at the Town Hall Police District headquarters. "It’d be great because people could just watch each other’s costumes and chat." 

The pitch: A street party offers more time for people with work-intensive costumes to compete in the contests. People will have more time to hang out and take photos with their favorite costumes, instead of chasing people down in the parade. Traffic would be better since Addison and Belmont would not be used, meaning the streets usually closed for the event will stay open.

And with no parade, attendees could skip the headache of registering beforehand — a process that previously has been cramped and time-consuming, Sachdev said. The hopeful result would be that the best costumes will have a chance to win the contest, not just the best of people who could rush to Halsted in time.

"It's nuts; it's so awful; it's so compact," he said of registration. "People leave feeling like they have to rush there, and that's frustrating for them. If they need to put 1,000 egg cartons together, it's a real time crunch. This gives them the opportunity to come when they want."

Judges will put stickers on their top 10 favorite costumes, which will be presented on stage for final viewing. Similarly, costumed children and pets will be able to walk on stage to show off costumes without going into the crowd. Families also would still be able to participate in the children's event over the weekend in Space Park.

No food or alcohol would be served on the street during the party, Sachdev said. People interested in drinking can go to bars afterward.

Regardless of how much money the event makes, $2,500 goes to the nonprofits, but with the lower operational cost of a street party, more money could be donated. Barricades and security are expensive, and sponsors have been difficult to drum up, Sachdev said. Confining the annual event lowers security and barricade costs because it's so much smaller.

The parade ran more than half a mile last year. A street fair would only be the two blocks between Cornelia and Roscoe.

Organizers still are seeking feedback from the community on what the event should look like. They're open to change the plan, they said.

"We’re still looking for the magic," Klein said.