CHICAGO (CBS) — For years, a CTA employee has spent her own time and money to decorate the Kimball station on the Brown Line for the holidays. It’s become a hit with riders, but now a new policy says the decorations must go.
CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas learned it’s not sitting well with some customers and fellow CTA employees.
From Christmas to Mothers Day, and most recently for St. Patrick’s Day, a CTA employee who works in the booth at the Kimball station has decorated the entrance for the holidays for years.
“Awesome decorations. I actually got a picture of the decorations on my phone,” said regular CTA rider McKlain Cadet.
“I think they’re cute. They make me smile in the morning,” fellow CTA rider Katie Childs said.
However, the CTA has a different review.
“They told her that they had to come down,” said Tiana Perry, who also works at the Kimball station.
Perry said management told her coworker she can no longer decorate.
“I love my job, but sometimes they’re not right,” Perry said.
Employees took down the St. Patrick’s Day display last week, despite the praise from riders.
“I think that’s crazy. Like, it makes people’s day sometimes,” Childs said.
CBS 2 reported last summer that management asked the employee to take down her rainbow decorations for LGBTQ pride – even though the agency itself decorates some trains in rainbow colors for Pride Month.
The employee said then it was her first time decorating for Pride, and she’d decorated for other holidays for years with no complaints. After CBS 2 reached out to the CTA, the agency decided the decorations could stay while they worked on a more specific policy.
The CTA said it decided last month that holiday decorations are a no-go at all stations.
“I feel like they’re trying to get a head start now, and have her take it down early. That way they don’t feel like they’re bashing the Pride situation again,” Perry said.
The CTA said the new rule is not in response to any specific decorations.
CTA employees across the city recently received a letter informing them “to be courteous to the beliefs of all CTA customers.” Holiday decorations are off-limits unless approved by management.
Cadet said he plans on petitioning for the decorations to stay.
“I feel like it’s gonna bring the community together, and a sense of community is very important; not only to me, but also I feel like it is imporant to everyone around us,” Cadet said.
A CTA employee gave the St. Patrick’s Day decorations to the Dunkin Donuts shop inside the Kimball station, in case they wanted to add to their display. That store kept their own decorations up, but the CTA employee booth is now barren.
A CTA spokesperson said decorations potentially can block signs and information, interfere with station operations, and conflict with paid advertisements.
The CTA did not answer when asked if the decorations at the Kimball station caused any of those problems.