After enjoying an afternoon seeing the animals at Brookfield Zoo, we headed over to their Discovery Center where my AAZK (American Association of Zookeepers) Chapter was hosting its annual Vital Ground fundraiser. It’s an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner with the money raised to be used for obtaining property out west in grizzly bear country. The buildings or lots purchased are then converted back to their natural state so the animals can use them for travel and aid in finding mates, food, etc. I’ve been going to these dinners long before I joined AAZK because they also feature an appearance by my favorite horror host, Svengoolie…the man indirectly responsible for bringing us Terror Daves together in the first place.
David: One of the many highlights each year when I visit Chicago is the Vital Grounds dinner and spending the evening with Svengoolie and his assistant, Jim Roche. I have always thought it was a tremendous showing of how amazing Rich Koz is to come out each year and support this event. It also seems that each year, the Daves become more involved with the appearance, which is such an honor considering we both have been fans of Svengoolie for as long as we can remember. To actually be working with this man, albeit in a non-direct way, is a pleasure and a thrill for both of us. The dinner itself is such an undertaking and the work that goes into it each and every year is almost overwhelming. To see everybody’s face the night of the event and to see how much they are enjoying themselves really makes you aware of not only how important this dinner is but also how much people support Brookfield AAZK.
Dave: I had the honor of introducing Svengoolie to the dinner guests. The event wasn’t just about wild grizzlies but a 20th birthday party for our two bears, Jim & Axhi, who had been rescued from an Alaskan dump site and brought to Broookfield Zoo after their mother had been killed. After Svengoolie made it to the forefront, he led a group of kids in a round of “Happy Birthday” before they all blew out the candles. (NOTE: This was a fake cardboard cake, iced and decorated to look real so nobody had to worry about eating anything laced in kiddie-spit).
David: To truly appreciate one of these signings you really need to stay for the whole event. To listen to Sven and Jim play off of each other is a comedy show in its own right. These two are naturals and would do very well on live TV together. To say that these two are friends is an understatement and the way they interact not only with each other but with their fans, is something that brings a smile to my face over and over again. I cannot even say how many times I laughed at loud at some of their banter, showing what a comedic genius Rich Koz truly is. It’s also heartwarming to see the faces of the fans as they enter the room, either for the first time or for repeat visits. Their faces light up with joy and the smiles and laughs are so genuine. It truly is magical.
Dave: Last year I got an amazing Don Post Metaluna Mutant bust from the other Dave (it fits in perfectly with my vintage sci-fi room) and, after discovering that Svengoolie would be airing This Island Earth, offered to let the host use it for his show. I was very happy when he accepted and taped with it (that show aired last Saturday, April 11th) a couple of weeks prior to this event. As he was returning the Metaluna to me at the zoo, I figured it would be such a shame not getting a few pictures with both it and the host!
David: The Mutant bust was originally released in the 60’s from the mask company Don Post Studios in conjunction with a contract that had with Universal Studios. They created a line of Halloween masks (and matching hands) of Universal’s greatest monster creations, including Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster, Wolfman, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and a few others. These masks were later photographed and made into a calendar, with a different monster representing each month. Because of this these masks became known as the calendar masks and are probably the most famous Halloween masks of all time! Don Post Studios later re-released these masks to adoring fans in the 1990’s to great reviews. Unfortunately Don Post Studios has since gone out of business but they will always be remembered for their ground-breaking contributions to mask collecting.
The event was a BIG success as Brookfield AAZK hit another Home Run for Vital Ground!
It’s always great seeing Sven at the zoo but this night would only be a pre-game of sorts for a much more substantive Svengoolie encounter slated the next day.
Coming Up…Visiting Svengoolie at the Studio!
The Terror Daves~