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9th Annual Arts in the Dark parade returns to State Street

Posted  6 months ago  in  Trending

4 MIN READ – LUMA8 proudly announces the 9th Arts in the Dark Halloween Parade, a family-friendly happening featuring unique floats, spectacle puppets and all forms of creative performance.


The parade takes place Saturday, October 21, from 6-8 p.m. Attendees are urged to arrive early to find a good spectating spot and attend a pre-Parade candy giveaway starting at 5 p.m., featuring HARIBO’s Goldenbear and more. Spectators are also encouraged to come dressed in their own colorful and creative costumes to join in the festive fun. This magical evening procession celebrates Halloween as the “artists’ holiday” and draws together participants from major cultural organizations, inspiring youth programs, and aspiring artists in every field. Named ‘One of the best Halloween celebrations in the world’ by UK-based Wanderlust magazine – this dazzling production annually delights an audience of 50,000+ gathered along historic State Street, from Lake to Van Buren Streets.

This year’s Arts in the Dark Halloween Parade holds a record number of applicants, with a selection of approximately 90 arts organizations participating. Families can expect to see well over 4,000 parade participants with virtually every neighborhood in Chicago represented. Colorful costumes, masks, installations, lighting, fire, acrobatics, puppetry and spectacle, dance moves and choreography, music, theatrical performances, street arts, circus arts, and cultural traditions will fill State Street.

Mark Kelly, Arts in the Dark Halloween Parade co-founder and artistic director, is thrilled to see the explosion of creative ferment as the parade groups prepare for their State Street performance. “I am very excited to have the League of Chicago Theatres, in partnership with BandWith Chicago, leading the parade,” he shared. On some of the specific featured groups, he commented, “Reinvent Ability and their wheelchair dancers will join over 40 dance organizations, while several striking IATSE film locals will remind us of their importance to the cultural life of our city. The amazing creative life of our city is truly captured in this playful and singular event.”

As Arts in the Dark celebrates the Halloween holiday by representing thousands of Chicago artists, it’s fitting that the parade, located in the ‘Candy Capital of North America,’ is co-sponsored by two giants of the candy industry: Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products, and HARIBO, the world's leading manufacturer of gummi products.

This year marks the parade’s inaugural bilingual emcee, Spanish-speaking WGN-TV journalist and co-anchor Lourdes Duarte, who will provide commentary on the parade from her staging between Monroe and Adams Streets.  This year’s parade will feature close to a dozen Mexican contingents, many of which choose to represent their cultural heritage by showcasing the traditions surrounding Dia de los Muertos. Noteworthy as well are the remarkable contributions of Chicago’s Black cultural organizations and traditions to the parade. A wide array of other ethnic and cultural traditions will be represented as well, including Brazilian, Columbian, Irish, Indonesian, Peruvian, Caribbean, Jamaican, Polynesian, and Indigenous groups.

Chicago’s diverse dance community will be well represented with a selection of 40 dance organizations including Reinvent Ability dance group and their wheelchair dancers, The Joffrey Ballet, Forward Momentum Chicago, Ballet Folklorico de Chicago, Astronaut Flee, Trinity Irish Dance School, Aztec Dance,  and more. Dance genres will include footwork, tango, hip hop, house, stepping, clogging and ballet. And this year, audiences can expect a collection of 12 marching bands and drumlines and several music ensembles. Select music groups include everything from the South Side Jazz Coalition to the Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles. The parade showcases a variety of music genres including hip-hop, jazz, gospel, opera, Mariachi, house, pop, steel pan, rock, punk and more.

LUMA8 President & CEO Sharene Shariatzadeh is delighted that her company will provide over $70K in grants to parade groups who might not otherwise be able to participate.  “Our priority is to ensure that Arts in the Dark is a true reflection of Chicago’s diverse cultural and ethnic community,” she says. “Thanks to the support of our sponsors and a 2023 Chicago Presents Grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), we are able to offer the assistance that allows organizations from every corner of Chicago to celebrate together in the heart of the city.”

Arts in the Dark is presented by LUMA8 and the City of Chicago and is co-sponsored by Barry Callebaut and HARIBO, with major support from Chicago Loop Alliance.  It is produced in partnership with DCASE and is a proud recipient of a 2023 Chicago Presents Grant. Additional support is provided by Choose Chicago, Harris Theater for Music and Dance at Millennium Park, and William Blair.

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