Tired of cars gobblin’ up all the right-of-way when there should be more space for pedestrians? Take your little witches and werewolves down to the annual Trick or Treat on Southport, organized by the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce.
This free, annual community event takes place this Sunday, October 26, from 1-4 p.m. on Southport, from Belmont to Irving Park. Big turnouts in recent years had crowds overflowing the sidewalks. In response, this year’s candy-fest will include a few blocks of street closures, create a safer environment for the throngs of costumed kids.
For the last few years, the chamber has pedestrianized a block of Southport between Grace and Byron to hold a Pumpkin Party during the trick or treating event, with a bouncy house and other activities. “It was a place where kids could go after trick or treating to run off the sugar,” explained Heather Way Kitzes, director of the chamber.
This year, the car-free area will be expanded to include sections of Southport from Roscoe to Addison, and from Waveland to Grace. That’s three out of the four blocks between the Southport Brown Line station and Grace. “The number-one comment we’ve gotten year after year is that the sidewalk congestion was creating an unsafe condition for pedestrians, so we decided to try this out,” Kitzes said. She expects that between 3,000 and 5,000 families will participate.
The permits and barricades for pedestrianizing the street will cost the chamber $3,000. However, the city is sending police officers to direct traffic at no additional charge, and is not requiring the chamber to pay for traffic aides. While a few merchants have grumbled about these blocks being made car-free, Kitzes said the vast majority of businesses supported the idea. The change will affect deliveries to a bakery, and a car wash will close for the afternoon.