Fire breathers, puppeteers celebrate Chicago culture in annual Arts in the Dark Halloween Parade

By Sam Tucker, Photojournalist

Chicago’s Arts in the Dark Halloween Parade kicked off its eighth annual event on Saturday, filling State Street with floats, performance artists and artistic and cultural expression.

The parade marked the finale of Chicago’s “Halloweek” program, as both Halloween and cultural-themed floats made their way down State Street, from Lake Street toward Van Buren Street, over the two-hour parade.

The Arts in the Dark Parade is presented by LUMA8 and the City of Chicago. It celebrates Halloween as an artist’s holiday, putting emphasis on creative and cultural expression. The parade included floats and other entries ranging from local high school marching bands to fire-breathing performers on stilts.

Englewood resident Melvin Denson attended the parade with his family and lined up on State Street to watch.

“It’s a spectacle … the kids, they love it. I’m taking pictures of everybody,” Denson said. “I like all the costumes; you got everything from superheroes to Strawberry Shortcake.”

The parade featured a wide range of Chicago artists, groups and institutions, such as After School Matters and the Joffrey Ballet, plus the larger-than-life puppets of Rogue Llama puppeteers and the Chicago Full Moon Jam’s fire breathers.

Logan Square’s Gamaliel Torres said he has lived in Chicago for 10 years but has never had a chance to come to the parade, despite hearing about it for years.

“I’m liking what it turned out to be,” Torres said.

Dominique Medina, from Humboldt Park, was another first-timer to the parade and said she would definitely be back next year.

“I love all the music themes. I love everyone collaborating together and really showing the culture of the city. It’s beautiful,” Medina said.