(Article changed on November 17, 2012 at 09:47)
They get up early the day after Thanksgiving and head for the stores like millions of others on the four-day weekend. But instead of hunting bargains and getting an early start on their Christmas shopping, they are heading for departments stores and upscale shops who sell fur. They are marching in Chicago's annual anti-fur parade known as Fur Free Friday (FFF).
The twenty-five-year-old demonstration originates at Daley Center and concludes at Water Tower Place on the Magnificent Mile, stopping at every furrier along the way. Some years it has drawn as many as 800 marchers.
The Fur Free Friday parade has featured coffins, piles of animal pelts and dangling steel jaw traps for people to see just how their furs were "harvested." It has included mock burials with coffins, marchers in monster masks, drum corps and beautiful women disrobing because they would "rather go naked than wear fur."
Since the 1980s, some of the stops on the parade, where a spokesperson delivers a speak-out about the cruelty of the fur trade, are gone. Evans, the world's largest furrier which anchored the State Street shopping corridor since the Great Depression went out of business in 1999 citing "anti-fur activism that focused on convincing the American and European public that wearing any kind of fur was cruel and malicious to the animal it was taken from." Evans had a second store on pricey Michigan Avenue which also went out of business, even before the State Street store. During the Fur Free Friday parade, Evans hid the Michigan Avenue store behind a big billboard truck to protect it from people who believe that "wearing any kind of fur been duped into believing that cruel and malicious to the animal it was taken from."
Across the street in the Palmer House Hilton, a fur seller called Mysels Furs went out of business in the mid 2000s. It kept its doors locked, so wary was it of the set who thinks taking a fur from an animal is malicious to the animal. What? Mysels Furs used to hire a live male mannequin, who looked like a cast member of the Addams Family, to perform in the window, furthering the store's crypt-like image.