Arts After Dark

Photo+of+a+parade+participant
Photo of a parade participant

Photo of a parade participant

Photo of a parade participant

Melanie Fitch, Staff Writer

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Being relatively new to the Chicago area, one thing jumped out at me immediately. Chicago may have her budget issues and challenges with law and order but when it comes to entertainment and cultural activities, she stands head and shoulders above most cities in the US, and probably the world. The art scene is thriving here, and thriving in every area. From Blues clubs, fashion shows, walking and river tours, Broadway theater productions and festivals of endless variety, there is always something going on. I won’t even mention the food! Yes, Chicago’s art scene is off the chain, and never is it more obvious than around the holidays. That’s when they really show up and show out, so I wasn’t surprised when Arts After Dark sponsored a Halloween parade.

Photo of a parade participant

Arts After Dark was a collaboration between LUMA8, The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and The Chicago Park District. The LUMA8 website describes them as a not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to elevating the cultural capital of Chicago. Discussing them any more would be a whole different article. However, for jobs, professional development, education etc. they seem to be a great resource for artists of all types.

The evening began with a pre-parade celebration at Buckingham Fountain that was hosted by the Chicago Blackhawks. Shortly after sunset the parade began. There were representatives from local organizations and small theater groups as well as world renowned institutions. Several marching bands, dancers and drumlines from schools were in attendance. The Art Institute and The School of the Art Institute were represented as well as the DuSable Museum. The Actors Gymnasium is a circus performing arts school and they were represented as well as Floats of Michael Jackson’s THRILLER, a fire truck carrying Mrs. O’Leary’s cows (They’d managed to multiply) and the cutest little Harry Potter that I’ve ever seen, pointing his wand at the crowd and probably shouting “Confundo!” or something. There were professional and amateur dance companies and most of the displays (people included), were draped and highlighted with colored lights and fluorescent paint, which added an extra theatrical boost to the performance. I must give a shout out to the Gay Men’s Chorus of Chicago. They weren’t singing but they did have a recording playing of what I assume was their music and it was good so, hat’s off guys! It was difficult to see the signs that most marchers carried because, unfortunately, that was the one thing that most groups did not light up, but I know that there were representatives of the Moorish American community (which until then, I didn’t realize was an organized group here), and there were several Spanish speaking groups as well.

LUNA8 Chicago’s Facebook page
Photo of one of the performing groups in the parade

These days it’s difficult to just move from point A to point B without politics rearing its ugly head. I watched the performers and audience members around me, noting how different we were and yet, so similar. Parents of all colors, trying to keep up with children that match them, and some that don’t. I listened to the different accents and languages being spoken around me, some familiar some not, and I couldn’t help but think that this type of diversity is what makes America unique from all other countries. It is almost completely populated by people from other places and their descendants, yet somewhere down the line someone decided to try and change the game. Well you can change the game and you can change the rules but you can’t change history so we’ll see how that works out.

Later, the festivities were set to move over to Millennium Parks Cloud Gate (the Bean), where DJs waited to keep the party going. In Maggie Daley Park there were candy giveaways and outdoor Halloween movies for the whole family. I didn’t stay until the end, but the weather was beautiful and it was a perfect night to stay out late. It was probably one of the last ones we will have this year and I think that Arts After Dark was a nice way to spend it.     

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