Permit for Lake in the Hills carnival that was shut down over teen fights had no security plan

No officers were on site until they were dispatched there because of fights breaking out

A carnival in Lake in the Hills was closed down Saturday evening after “a significant number of unchaperoned teenagers” showed up, organizers said.
The spring carnival at Randall and Algonquin roads was supposed to operate until 10 p.m. Saturday, but by 8 p.m. the At Home parking lot was empty and the rides motionless following what witnesses said was a large police presence.

A security plan was not included in either the permit or application for the Lake in the Hills spring carnival that was shut down at the end of April due to fights and disruptions by teens, according to Lake in the Hills records released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Northwest Herald.

The Lake in the Hills Village Board had rejected the first request for the carnival in February, in part because the original iteration of the carnival was scheduled to be held for two weekends, which raised concerns among some officials, according to meeting minutes.

In the meeting where the permit was originally denied, Trustee Wendy Anderson asked police Chief Mary Frake for her thoughts on the carnival, the meeting minutes show. Frake said the police knew about the carnival in case they needed to respond to the scene and had no issues from the 2023 carnival.

The Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Chamber of Commerce, which put on the carnival, came back to the Village Board with a scaled-down, one weekend event which was approved.

An emergency plan included as part of the application only touched on would be done in case of severe weather. St. Charles-based Windy City Amusements, which was the vendor for the Cabin Fever carnival and does other carnivals in town like the Rockin’ Rib Fest and Summer Sunset Festival, said in emails to officials they will follow the police department and Village requirements.

“Unfortunately, many of the issues at the Lake in the Hills Spring Carnival were attributed to unaccompanied minors. The majority of those involved did not attend the carnival to ride the rides, but to loiter,” Anthony Salerno, Jr., the president of Windy City Amusements, said in a statement to the Northwest Herald.

Salerno added Windy City Amusements has instituted some new rules for all of its spring carnivals in the wake of the Lake in the Hills carnival. Provisions cited include a single point of entry at carnivals, and a stipulation that people entering will need to purchase at least 20 ride tickets or an unlimited ride wristband. Children under 36 inches tall with an adult and adults over 21 who are accompanying children to the carnival are able to get in free.

Also, after 4 p.m., minors need a parent or guardian to accompany them to the carnival and parents can’t drop children off under the new policy. Salerno said Windy City has had the policy for its last two carnivals and it’s “worked well.” “Our number one priority is to be able to provide a safe environment for our guests.”

Greg Urban, the executive director of the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Chamber, declined to comment, saying “we have no additional information to share about the carnival.”

When the carnival was canceled last month, the chamber released a statement apologizing and citing the “significant number of unchaperoned teenagers, with intentions to disrupt and cause trouble [who] descended upon the Carnival and shopping centers in the area.”

The Cabin Fever Carnival, the spring carnival that was shut down, consisted solely of carnival and rides, in contrast with other festivals in town like Rockin’ Rib Fest in July that offer other attractions.

For the Cabin Fever Carnival, operators were required to get electric and health department permits and to provide a list of carnival workers. Among village requirements explicitly spelled out was that Windy City Amusements could not hire sex offenders or any fugitives.

Village officials reached out to the chamber a couple weeks before the carnival to confirm that chamber representatives would be on site in case of an emergency, to which Urban said there would be.

At about 8:45 p.m. the night of April 27, village officials reached out to Urban, letting him know the police had shut down the carnival for “safety concerns” and asked him to speak with Village Administrator Shannon Andrews before 10 p.m. about the carnival’s cancellation, according to records. Urban replied minutes later saying they had spoken and the chamber was in “full agreement” with the cancellation.

Urban emailed out the apology statement to the chamber board with a note saying the issue would be discussed further at a future chamber meeting, records indicate.

Text messages from what appears to be Andrews and Urban on April 28 discussed logistical details regarding takedown of the carnival.

Frake addressed the carnival fallout in a village board meeting May 9. The police chief said a total of 23 officers were on the scene for the carnival, which she said the police responded to fights breaking out and “general unruliness” of groups.

The police department had separately confirmed to the Northwest Herald that officers were not on scene of the carnival that night until they were called there by 911 dispatchers.

“There were no LITH PD detailed to the event. Officers responded as a part of their patrol duties,” police confirmed in an April 28 email.

Frake noted the carnival had an impact on neighboring Algonquin since people dispersed into the village following the carnival shutdown.

“Public safety remains our priority,” Frake said, adding that the police have had to make changes in regards to such events to address “trends” over the years. Officials didn’t address what specific changes they have made. But canceling the festivals isn’t a change officials are entertaining.

“The festivals will, of course, continue,” Frake said.

Village president Ray Bogdanowski said other events like the Summer Sunset Festival and Rockin’ Rib Fest have “action plans” in place, but “we’re going to review them.”

Algonquin police made one arrest in connection with the carnival, but the arrest didn’t happen at the event itself. According to the police report, some teens dispersed from the carnival and then crossed into Algonquin. Police received calls about unruly teenagers and told restaurants along Randall Road to close their dining rooms while the teens dispersed.

Police responded to the McDonald’s on Randall Road after the carnival had dispersed where they allege they found unruly teenagers. Police said they arrested an 18-year-old from Elgin after they allege he shoved officers inside a McDonald’s.

The teen, Jahmarion Pippins-Banks was charged with two counts of aggravated battery to a police officer and was released with conditions in connection with the case April 29, court documents state.

Village officials said they are looking at what improvements they need to make to these carnivals going forward but don’t yet have specifics.

“It’s important for the community to continue to have events,” Bogdanowski said.

Northwest Herald reporters Michelle Meyer and Janelle Walker contributed.

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