Chicago holidays

Chicago Announces Return of Popular Holiday Traditions, City Events

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After a holiday season that saw the cancellation of several popular traditions in Chicago, the city has announced the return of some of the most beloved events and activities for fall and winter.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday that in-person holiday festivities will return this year, beginning with Halloween.

According to the mayor's office and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Halloween community events will return citywide.

In addition, winter traditions will return at Millennium Park, including ice skating and the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, which will be held on Nov. 19.

Last year, the Christmas tree lighting ceremony was conducted virtually and the Millennium Park McCormick Tribune Ice Rink closed for the season.

The announcement comes at a time when the city is seeing an average of 422 new coronavirus cases per day, along with 31 hospitalizations and four deaths.

Already, some major outdoor events like the Chicago Pride Parade have announced cancellations this fall, but others, including a number of festivals and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon remain planned. Most recently, events like Pitchfork and Riot Fest were held in the city.

While Chicago health officials have said the data has so far not shown a need for added restrictions, the city's top doctor said the colder seasons come with their own concerns.

"I would be foolish to not be at all worried about fall, winter," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday.

She added that as officials prepare for not just coronavirus, but cold and flu season, that can be cause for concern.

"If we see a pattern where the fall and winter becomes not just cold and flu season, but sort of cold, flu and COVID season, it becomes more of a regular respiratory virus, then yeah, I am a little concerned," she said, urging people to get their flu shots and COVID vaccines.

But as far as events and activities, Arwady said the city will "follow our data."

"Our goal, you've heard me say this over and over again, is to stay open, and to stay careful," she said. "If we have any signs that COVID or COVID and flu together is seriously threatening our healthcare system, or if we had a new variant come in, where for example, the virus... where the vaccine was no longer protective against the virus or some other - you know, I can't predict with a crystal ball - we could have significant trouble... We have certainly the potential for trouble, so I'm hoping that we won't need to do more aggressive things but we will, if we start to threaten our healthcare system, or if the or if this is changing to a point that we need to pull back on things."

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