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CHICAGO On Friday night, giant chickens handed out Mardi Gras beads on the steps of the Chicago Cultural Center while witches flanked the doors, ready to welcome some 500 guests to Mayor Richard Daley and Maggie Daley's Halloween Ball. The majority of those guests opted for costumes instead of black-tie attire, and several mock Sarah Palins, and one pumpkin vest (the mayor's) peppered the crowd.
The ball's purpose was two-fold: “The Cultural Center offers free programming such as concerts and activities for children,” said event manager Kim Snoddy. “The gala raises funds for those programs, but it also lets people see a lot of rooms and halls throughout the Cultural Center, giving guests a chance to see what they could do if they wanted to host an event here.” Snoddy added that the center hosts approximately 500 private functions a year, which run the gamut from weddings to conferences.
In order to show off as much of the historic landmark as possible, Snoddy and her team had guests enter the building on its Randolph Street side—a change from the traditional point of entry on Washington Street. The move gave repeat guests a peek at the building's cafe, which sits just inside the Randolph Street entrance, and which Event Creative dressed up with spiderwebs, skeletons, and a pie stuffed with severed fingers (plastic, of course.)
Also new this year: The cocktail reception moved from the third-floor Preston Bradley Hall, where it was held in years past, to the second-level G.A.R. Hall. To get to the Phil Stefani Signature Events-catered dinner in Sidney Yates Gallery, guests climbed the stairs up to the fourth floor and passed through more areas of the building. Along the way, vignettes on each landing featured rat-strewn trash cans, abandoned pirate ships, and a Freddy Kruger statue bathed in eerie light.
The ball raised $500,000 for the Cultural Center.