For the past eight years, “Dead on Damen Avenue” has been a Halloween tradition on Chicago’s North Side, but despite vandals damaging and stealing items, the neighborhood isn’t letting the incident break their Halloween spirit.
Jessica Bernardi, who created the attraction, was stunned last week to find broken and missing items in the annual Halloween display.
“This is supposed to be something that I do to bring joy to people to get to connect with my community,” she said.
Other neighbors in the Rogers Park community were floored as well.
“I was just so disgusted,” Laura Dundas said.
Madeline Oklesen started a fundraiser to help repair the damage to the display, and to buy new items for it.
“It’s not even the monetary value. It’s the fact that we put our hearts and souls into this, especially Jessica,” she said.
That fundraiser raked in more than $2,300 in donations in just a matter of days.
“We wanted to replace the stuff that was lost,” she said. “We also wanted to install security cameras so we can put it back up again.”
The fundraiser will also donate money to Chicago-based “My Block, My Hood, My City,” a group designed to help build communities and to help young Chicagoans find new experiences and places in the city to help encourage them to chase their dreams.
Slowly but surely, neighbors are determined to help rebuild the displays in time for Halloween, and even though the vandals still have not been caught, the residents of the 7500 block of Damen Avenue aren’t willing to let the incident ruin their Halloween fun.
“Everybody cares about it, and everybody wants to see it back, and I have to try my best to make it a great Halloween,” Bernardi said.