Midwest FurFest 2014
Midwest FurFest 2014 was the 15th yearly Midwest FurFest convention, held once again at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Rosemont, Illinois. It was held on December 5-7, 2014. The change in dates from its traditional weekend before Thanksgiving (US) was due to scheduling conflicts with the hotel and lack of available rooms. Attendance at the convention was 4,571. The fursuit parade had 1,132 participants, and the convention raised $31,445.93 for convention charity Critter Camp Exotic Pet Sanctuary.
Guests of Honor
At 12:45 a.m. on the third day of the convention, December 7th, several thousand people were evacuated from the hotel due to an intentional release of chlorine gas inside the building.
First responders were called to investigate a noxious odor that was spreading across the ninth and eighth floor of the hotel, where a high level of chlorine gas was discovered in the air. The Rosemont Public Safety Department reported that the chemical gas have been caused by an intentional chemical leak via an smashed glass container containing powdered chlorine found in the 9th floor stairwell.
Nineteen people were transported to nearby hospitals after complaining of nausea, dizziness and other medical problems. None were hospitalized and all were released. HAZMAT technicians decontaminated the area and after conducting several tests deemed the area safe within about two hours. People were allowed back into the building around 4:20 a.m.
A television news stringer arrived at the scene during the event and recorded footage of the evacuation in progress, which became the footage used in news reports around the world. News coverage of the evacuation began almost immediately, with two of Chicago's 24-hour news radio stations (WGN-AM and WBBM-AM) mentioning it on the air within minutes of the evacuation beginning, initially as traffic alerts (due to the road closures caused by the emergency response) but quickly moved it into news segments as additional information regarding the scope of the evacuation reached their newsrooms. The incident was a lead story that morning during newscasts on almost all of the Chicago television stations, with WMAQ (NBC 5) and WLS (ABC 7) sending crews to the hotel for live reports.
Normal convention operations and events continued on schedule, with the convention staff releasing an official statement about the incident and evacuation later on the day.
- "Thanks also to everyone..." post on the Midwest FurFest's Twitter. Dated November 24, 2013. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
- Topic: Midwest FurFest Announces Date Change! December 5-7, 2014 post on the Midwest FurFest website. Dated January 8, 2014. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
- Local charity receives donation - Freeport Journal Standard (December 14, 2014)
- "Pirates are so last year." comment on the Midwest FurFest's Twitter. Dated March 24, 2014. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
- "Our theme for #MWFF 2014 will be BRIGHT LIGHTS BIG CITY." post on the Midwest FurFest's Twitter. Dated November 24, 2013. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
- "Our Guests of Honor for #MWFF 2014 will be..." tweet on the Midwest FurFest account's Twitter. Dated November 24, 2013. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
- "We’ve been asked to evacuate the Hyatt..." post on the Midwest FurFest's Twitter. Dated December 7, 2014. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- Furfest Evacuated After Chlorine Leak At Hyatt Hotel news segment from ABC 7 Eyewitness News Chicago. Aired December 7, 2014. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- 19 hospitalized, thousands evacuated in 'intentional' gas leak at Rosemont hotel article on the Chicago Tribune website. Dated December 7, 2014. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- Chemical leak at Hyatt Regency deemed intentional article from the Chicago Sun Times. Dated December 7, 2014. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- Did someone try to POISON a furry convention? Chlorine gas sickens 19 as police reveal leak may have intentionally targeted cosplayers article on the Daily Mail Online. Dated December 7, 2014. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- At Hyatt-Regency, Rosemont: Glass Jar with White Substance, Strong Chlorine Smell Causes Firefighter, EMS Hazmat Response, Evacuation article from The Cardinal. Dated December 7, 2014. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
- Statement On Sunday Morning's Evacuation page on Midwest FurFest 2014's website. Dated December 7, 2014. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
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