Plans to hold a “Halloween Hustle” 6K run on the Evanston lakefront the Sunday before Halloween drew complaints from lakefront aldermen this week.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, complained that adding the run would break through the 12-event cap the city has placed on lakefront events for the past decade or more.

And Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, objected that having an event organized by a for-profit company like Jet Event Productions, LLC that’s planning the Halloween event “would be an entirely new direction for events on the lakefront” — apparently unaware that Jet also organized a lakefront Thanksgiving Turkey Trot last year.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said the Human Service Committee several months ago had discussed expanding the number of events on the lakefront.

Holmes and several other aldermen who represent wards away from the lake have tended to favor expanded use of the lakefront for events open to the public, while the aldermen whose constituents live along the lake have tended to heed complaints from neighbors about noise and traffic congestion caused by the events.

Eliot Wineberg, an Evanston resident and owner of Jet, said that for-profit companies typically organize running events but design them to raise funds for charity.

He said that last year’s turkey trot in Evanston cost $60,000 to produce and only generated $50,000 in revenue, but that he’s hoping the event will become profitable as more runners learn about it.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said that while she “wasn’t advocating for any particular number” of lakefront events, she believed that in the interest of transparency people who live on the lakefront should be invited to comment before the City Council changes the lakefront event policy.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz apologized there’d been some mis-communication by staff about the number of events proposed for this year

The current schedule is heavily loaded toward the summer months — with nine events in July, July or August, two in September and one in November.

Grover said additional events “are just what we’ve been talking about in our economic development and community wellness efforts” and noted that no other events now are proposed for October.

She said she likes the idea of holding running events on the lakefront because it avoids the need to close city streets.

The aldermen voted to approve the other 12 events on the proposed lakefront schedule and have a further discussion about the Halloween event at the April 16 council meeting.

Top: Running events on Halloween have proved popular around the country. Here the logo for an event sponsored by the Black Hills Runners Club in South Dakota.

Would you favor more public events on Evanston’s lakefront?

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Someone wants to use the lakefront in October?!

    I think the idea should be to limit the number of events over the course of warm months specifically, not simply year round.  Residents deserve to use the parks they pay for during the summer months but if folks want to take a run in October, when use of the lakefront is on the decline for the year, I don't see how this could be a bad thing.  If anything, it gives vendors traditionally associated with summer months one more opportunity to make some cash and continues to build on a narritive of the necessity of lake preservation for YEAR ROUND enjoyment.

    It seems this might be more about a lack of transparency on Wally's part with his "miscommunication," then it is about the specific event.  There seems to be a trend of overpromising in private and not including the larger community in planning.  Community organizing 101, Wally — include impacted constituencies from the beginning in every possible conversation to avoid the most pushback.  Textbook….

  2. Run baby Run

    The Turkey Trot is a great addition to Evanston.   The lakefront is a wonderful place to do a run.   Add more.  I'm assuming there is some way the city can benefit  from hosting more events…. say one of their famous fees…. 

    It encourages fitness, brings people into Evanston… takes advantage of our wonderful lakefront.  

    DO IT!

  3. For Real?

    I have worked with Eliot Wineberg for about a decade helping to power registration into his races.

    The Turkey Trot last year was a smashing success, and begged the question, why was this never considered before?  Thank you to Eliot for bringing the race to Evanston, a community rich with amateur athletes (Evanston Running Club, etc.) who frequently participate in these races…. only in OTHER communities, who host them and thus benefit from participant traffic to their local businesses on race day. 

    The Halloween Race is a fantastic idea.  The objections to the race are absolutely ridiculous.

    To not allow a race becuase it is produced by a for-profit business is just insane.  In fact, it is almost slanderous for Fiske to object to a for-profit event and really gives any VOTER some insight to how this person thinks.  Is that how you choose winners and losers in Evanston Fiske?  Moreover, most for profit races, as Eliot explained, align with a charity, and do donate proceeds.  What on earth is wrong with a company earning a profit?  Nothing.

    And the 12 event cap concern by Wynne is so stupid, it does not even warrent  comment. 

    Our lakefront is a beautiful asset.  Use of the lakefront path via a race only helps to prevent use of public streets, which creates an even larger inconvenience.  Such races usually take place on a Sunday, and conlude before Noon.

    I find it very concering and sad that Fiske and Wynne would object to this event.  Such a race would only help Evanston's economic development and wellness initiatives. 

    This kind of short sighted thinking and perhaps decision making is the kind of thinking that negatively impacts our community.

    Evanston should be proud and honored that we have a resident like Eliot Wineberg and his company, who has had such a positive footprint in the Chicagoland area, for years, for his advocacy for fitness, excellent race production and support of the running community.

    Let the race take place.

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