When chlorine gas was released into the air of a suburban Chicago hotel, thousands of revelers dressed as animals were forced to evacuate and take refuge at a dog show across the street.
Investigators say that chlorine powder was intentionally left in a stairwell on the ninth floor of the Hyatt Regency O'Hare hotel early Sunday, and are treating this as a criminal matter. Nineteen people attending the Midwest FurFest complained of feeling dizzy and nauseous, and were treated at area hospitals.
The annual convention celebrates anthropomorphic animals, and attendees — who call themselves "furries" — wear elaborate animal costumes made of faux fur and foam. Within hours of the evacuation, most people returned to the convention, and many were left wondering why anyone would attempt to cause them harm. Kit McCreedy, a 28-year-old dressed as a fox, told The Associated Press that the furries would "recover from this. People are tired but they're still full of energy." --Catherine Garcia