No zombies on Chicago Street this year as Elgin council votes to cancel Halloween event for 2022

There will be no zombies roaming downtown Elgin this year. At least not as part of Nightmare on Chicago Street.

Following the recommendation of Elgin Special Events Coordinator Kate O'Leary, the Elgin City Council voted 4-3 against holding the popular annual Halloween event in 2022.

O'Leary said rising material and rental costs coupled with a volunteer shortage and uncertainty about the pandemic and weather colored her recommendation.

“The risk of this event is too great to justify,” she said. “The likelihood of the city recouping a majority of the expense is low.”

That cost was estimated at $512,000, a 51% increase over the last time they held the event in 2019. The last two years were canceled because of the pandemic.

The city was already getting a later start than usual on the planning of the event due to the pandemic, but O'Leary said the committee that runs Nightmare could still pull it off if the council approved.

“My concern moving forward is not with the committee or with their abilities in any way, it's just simply the cost of the event that has increased so much and the uncertain factors,” she said. “I cannot overstate how loved it is, it's just ‘is this the year for it' is the question.”

While opinions on the council were split on whether or not to hold the event this year, each member on the dais who spoke supported the idea of holding it again in 2023.

“I love it, I love the Nightmare, but I'm looking at the half a million dollar expense with so many unknown factors,” council member Steve Thoren said.

Thoren, along with council members Corey Dixon, Rose Martinez and Toby Shaw, voted to cancel Nightmare this year. Members Dustin Good, Tish Powell and Carol Rauschenberger approved a motion to have the event. Mayor David Captain and council member John Steffen were absent.

“I'm disappointed that the city isn't considering it for this year,” Raushenberger said. “I hate to put the six or seven or eight years that we've built a reputation for this on the back burner and do something different.”

Council member Martinez understood the sentiment, and said they have to look at the big picture.

“I really think in our heart, we all want to have it,” Martinez said.

“I get it, I think this is one of the biggest exposures that we have to our wonderful city, but I think we owe it to the rest of Elgin who will be paying for this.”

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