Back from the dead? Nightmare on Chicago Street to get another vote from Elgin council
In the spirit of the zombies that it celebrates, Elgin's Nightmare on Chicago Street has a chance to rise from the dead.
Despite near unanimous support by council members for the event as a whole, they voted 4-3 on April 13 to cancel the popular Halloween happening this year due to rising costs and uncertainty about the pandemic.
Following a loud public outcry, both on social media and to members of the Elgin city staff and council, Nightmare is back on the council's agenda for Wednesday and members will have another vote to decide it's fate for this year.
"We're putting it back before the council because we want to reiterate the staff's commitment to proceed with the event if the city council and the community sentiment is to go forward, despite the identified risks," City Manager Rick Kozal said.
Those risks include an estimated cost of $512,000, a 51% increase over the last time the city held the event in 2019, and the potential that pandemic mitigations could return.
Kozal said he and the staff never were against having the event, it's just their job to provide objective information.
"If the council and the community are not worried about those potential risks, we're absolutely on board, as we have been from the beginning, to produce the event," he said.
Councilman Corey Dixon, who along with members Rose Martinez, Steve Thoren and Toby Shaw cast the four no votes, said he believes it will pass this time.
"I've always been for the event, I want to bring it back, I want to see it help with economic development throughout the downtown," Dixon said. "But we also need to contain the cost so that we're not going overboard."
The cost and late start on an event that usually involves beginning planning in January or February was the main concern expressed by the council before the recent cancellation. Dixon said scaling back some elements of the event is on the table.
"I think we're going to be able to get this done and also control the cost," he said. "We're trying to work out those details."
Those details won't be worked out by Wednesday, but Dixon said a vote will happen and it could involve a specific budget limit that the organizers will have to work within.
Thoren, who annually serves as the emcee on Nightmare's main stage, said he's received "a tremendous amount of feedback" from people who want to have the event.
"I love that event and I hated to vote no," said Thoren. "I'm open to changing my mind once I see the new details."