DOWNTOWN — Given modern-day security concerns, the city's Halloween parade is insisting on no backpacks, no lawn chairs, no large bags or umbrellas and — Halloween or not — no masks.
"First of all, it's a parade that happens at night," said Sharene Shariatzadeh, executive director of the Chicago Cultural Mile Association, lead sponsor of the parade stepping off at 6 p.m. Saturday at the corner or Balbo Avenue and Columbus Drive and going north to Monroe Street.
"We strongly discourage the wearing of face masks by children," says the event site, due to limited vision, especially in the dark, but it also adds, "Teen and adult spectators cannot wear face masks."
"If anything goes wrong, we want to make sure that people can see people," Shariatzadeh said. "It's just safer."
According to Shariatzadeh, it grows out of concerns expressed by Central District Police Cmdr. Alfred Nagode and Neil Sullivan, a former Central District commander who served as security consultant for the parade.
It grows out of a ban on backpacks and the like at the Chicago Marathon following the Boston Marathon bombing two years ago, but it also addresses more mundane Halloween concerns.
"Halloween tends to be a crazy time," Shariatzadeh said. "That's why we're having our event not on Halloween, but the week before, because the Police Department is always a little overtaxed on Halloween.
"I don't think we'll be arresting people with masks," she added. Yet parade marshals are being instructed that "if anyone sees anyone with a mask, they'll be asked to take it off."
Shariatzadeh said, "We just want to make sure it's family-friendly."
Instead, parade spectators are being encouraged to paint their faces or use makeup if they want to dress up, which should lend itself naturally to the "Thriller" zombie dance set to bring up the rear of the parade as one of the finales.
Rapper Lupe Fiasco, who is expected to be one of the leaders of the parade, will dress as the Willis Tower, according to Shariatzadeh, but that wouldn't seem to require a facial disguise.
So hot or not, leave that Donald Trump mask for the Halloween parties and the trick-or-treating, not the parade.
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