CHICAGO (CBS) — A Halloween nightmare in Hyde Park. Large groups of teenagers lit fireworks and tossed them into cars, and stomped on windshields as they ran through the neighborhood, causing trouble last year.
By night’s end, at least 18 vehicles were damaged in Hyde Park and that was only the the beginning. The University of Chicago issued an alert last year after two students were robbed and beaten in Hyde Park on Halloween, one injured so badly he went to the hospital.
This time around, one homeowner is trying to get the whole neighborhood involved in preventing a repeat of the Halloween chaos seen in Hyde Park in recent years.
Violence and vandalism; last year, Halloween brought scores of teens to Hyde Park, and many of those youths caused havoc; cracking windshields; breaking car mirrors, setting off fireworks, and jumping on cars on several blocks. Some also threw eggs and golf balls at people on the streets, and punched people near a Halloween festival.
In 2016, nearly 500 teens converged on 53rd Street on Halloween, damaging property, throwing eggs, and vandalizing cars.
Hyde Parkers want to avoid a repeat this year.
“We want to have eyes on the street,” said Hyde Park homeowner Bennie Currie.
Currie said he’s been working with aldermen, police, and the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce; all of them trying to make sure the Halloween turmoil doesn’t happen again.
Officers plan to increase patrols on Halloween, and the aldermen are organizing a block party at 53rd and Lake Park, a busy commercial corner at the center of what’s known as Downtown Hyde Park.
“We have things that are organized for teenagers that have teen input in them,” Currie said. “I think it will work.”
Currie said he’s also enlisting help from neighbors on more than two dozen blocks across Hyde Park, to band together to be on the alert for what they’ve dubbed “CollaBOOration Night.”
“You have to make it work by coming out and participating,” Currie said.
The neighbors plan to turn on their porch lights, host yard parties, cook out, walk dogs, and pass out coffee, cider and other treats while they keep an eye on things from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., when most of the Halloween trouble has happened the past few years.
Linda Roberts and other neighborhood homeowners put hours of planning into the illuminating idea.
“We’re all from different blocks, and we all have played a piece,” Roberts said.
From passing out flyers to creating a Facebook page, they’re all working to get the word out.
“We need to be present in our community, and be positive at the same time,” Currie said.
Not to be outdone, the University of Chicago – which owns several commercial off-campus properties along 53rd Street in Hyde Park – has set up a crime alert text message system specifically made for Halloween night. It’s not just for students and staff, but for anyone wanting to stay informed.
For more details on how to sign up,
“We’re all from different blocks, and we all have played a piece,”