Chicago enjoys 1st annual Halloween Gathering

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -- A kickoff to the Halloween holiday one week early.

Organizers of Chicago’s inaugural Halloween festival say 200,000 people came out to the two part event that started in the afternoon with food, crafts and a costume festival and ended with an evening parade.

"It's a lot of fun, they are playing music and it's like it's Halloween even though it’s not Halloween yet!" said one Chicagoan watching the parade go by.

There were zombies, bands and dinosaurs!         

This is the first year for the Halloween Gathering, the brainchild of the Chicago Cultural Mile Association - with the hopes of highlighting the city’s cultural community.

“I think it will grow but it's more than I expected and the floats are great and the costumes are great,” said Heather Wheeler.

She and her family live in the city and she says this is a way to celebrate Halloween a little differently, but with thousands of their closest friends.

The fun started hours before the parade in Maggie Daley Park.

"We did the hula hoops, we watched the dancing and we did the procession," said one mother of two girls dressed as clowns.

Organizers say they plan on making it a yearly event and Chicago families agree this will become a part of their Halloween traditions.

“I think it's awesome to showcase all of the wonderful arts that Chicago has and I hope they keep going on with it every year,” says Marty Gabel.

Organizers say they hope to make this a festival that draws an international crowd