Navy Pier’s “Fright Flicks”: A Citywide Celebration of Halloween
by Amulya Aluru
The sting of the cold wind was one felt by Chicagoans and wide-eyed tourists alike, as they strolled down Navy Pier a few days before Halloween, hoping to take part in various holiday-themed festivities or simply enjoying what the city has to offer. Known for organizing fun, family-oriented events, as well as separate ones geared towards young adults, Navy Pier never disappoints. In this manner, the city’s plan for the annual bone-chilling day spanned the preceding weeks, ranging from scary movies to a fireworks show. One specific facet of this haunting season that never fails to entertain is the former. Reading the description on Navy Pier’s website, one might question the feasibility of organizing an outdoor movie screening and feel discouraged to attend. However, if you are open to a good laugh at the expense of frostbite and a warm cup of McDonald’s hot chocolate after waiting in a line stretching half the food court, it’s the place for you.
After asking the security guard for directions to where the movie showing would occur, she looked at me incredulously. She seemed confused as to why I was standing there, shivering in a large black coat and matching mittens, hoping to see a children’s movie. I smiled slightly, shrugging my shoulders, and braced myself for the possibility of dissapointment.
The wide expanse of grass in front of the large screen playing “Monster House” was dotted with around 20 people, including a few families with young children. The name of the movie might give incorrect expectations for viewers hoping for a good scare or an action-packed one and a half hours. Instead, the animated children’s movie served as a constant source of comedy amid predictable scenes. The sheer absurdity and hilarity of overexaggerated clips and the classic ignorant protagonists running from the clutches of death every few seconds added to laughter at the expense of the movie. Apart from the relatively anticipated storyline, the film proved its validity. It featured significant character development from the beginning to the end, and engaged the audience through humor. In its pre-teen comedic efforts, “Monster House” is ideal for jaded high-school students stressed about school and college applications to relax and laugh about a jocular movie depicting exaggerated imaginations from childhood nightmares. In fact, at times, I even felt myself lean closer to the screen or voice my complaints about characters’ actions.
Warmer weather and a companion to commiserate with make the movie bearable, and perhaps even a mood-lifter. However, sitting in the cold for the duration of the movie with only a handful of free candy as sustenance paints a dreary picture. Watching it at home with family and friends, and then heading to Navy Pier for other festivities might be a better option.
Regardless, the experience of attending “Fright Flicks” is unique compared to simply watching the movie alone. Viewers participate in the festive mood and observe the various events occurring at the Pier, including a costume party whose attendees’ costumes ranged from Harry Potter to the classic cat.
Furthermore, the multitude of places to explore and things to do near Navy Pier make attending a movie there both a fun and fulfilling day away from homework. After the movie ended, guests were encouraged to return in an hour to watch a string quartet perform, followed by another Halloween showing. The crowd flocked towards the ferris wheel, stopping to admire the view or rushing inside the food court to escape the frigid temperatures. The majority chose the latter, joining the seemingly endless line behind McDonald’s for a comforting cup of hot chocolate. Oddly, the prodigious establishment, in one of the busiest places of the city, housed only one hot chocolate machine, making the wait long and unfulfilling.
Thus, to those interested, I would suggest bringing a thermos of hot chocolate or buying a warm drink elsewhere before the feature. Apart from this specific movie showing at Navy Pier’s “Fright Flicks” marathon, other movies suitable to different tastes were also shown. Browse the Events section of Navy Pier’s website and choose the most fascinating movie showing on either weekend encompassing the marathon.
In addition to the spooky entertainment, other activities filled the weeks preceding Halloween. The traditional trick-or-treating holiday is much more enjoyable and palpable after partaking in city-wide festivities and seeing Chicagoans of all ages come together, especially those who no longer dress up in costumes and go door-to-door asking for candy. So, go downtown next Halloween, or even in the upcoming holidays, to celebrate as a city.