I no sooner said goodbye to the ladies of Midnite Mausoleum before earning myself a speeding ticket trying to zoom back east for Elgin’s Nightmare on Chicago Street. If you’ve ever attended one of these in the past than you’d understand my exuberance as well as all the hyperbole I’ve used to describe it over the years; both on this site as well as in the latest issue of Scary Monsters Magazine.
Picture several city blocks created to look like a zombie apocalypse; complete with militia roaming an undead “Safe Zone” while garnering inspiration from their own macabre Uncle Sam; national TV horror host, Svengoolie. You can’t blame me for making this my favorite stop during the Halloween season, nor for having a led foot while trying to get there.
In this regard, I’m far from alone. Now celebrating its fifth year, Nightmare on Chicago Street has fast become Chicagoland’s premiere Halloween experience with last year’s attendance reaching over 12,000 people!
Between that pesky sheriff and untold miles of road construction, my journey to this Safe Zone seemed almost as epic as one seen on The Walking Dead. Come to think of it, I probably was lumbering like a zombie until my bum knee finally adjusted from that three hour car ride.
We made our way up Chicago Street in search of my friends, Elizabeth Haney and Alice Moring. The last couple of years they both wore matching attire designed to compliment their favorite horror host, Svengoolie. This year, however, they’d forego fashion in favor of fascism by donning ZDI (Zombie Defense Initiative) military fatigue instead.
Alice gave us our press passes which were pretty funny since they had my daughters, Leia and Jade, officially identified as “Dave Spawn 1 & 2.” Having now been granted full access to The Safe Zone we wasted no time venturing out into it. I think we got about twenty-five feet before being stopped by a group of zombies performing the signature dance moves of Michael Jackson’s THRILLER. With dusk quickly approaching we decided to check out the newest facet of this year’s festivities; a scary circus of sorts with the image of one of horror’s most famous clowns, Pennywise, serving as greeter.
Although the event hadn’t officially started, there was an area featuring unique vendors (appropriately called the “Bizarre Bazaar”) that was open for business. It was as good a time as any to check out what they had to offer.
Realizing it was dinner time (and since brains really weren’t our thing) we purchased a big plate of nachos at one of the numerous food stands. With a long day behind us and a long night still ahead, I opted for an additional boost and grabbed some coffee at the Dr. WHO Blue Box Cafe (which we Daves covered HERE).
One thing that was different since my last visit was the completion of a Weeping Angel painting located behind a door shaped like the Tardis.
As we headed back up Chicago Street, we noticed a crowd gathering around a school bus that appeared to be rocking back and forth. A closer view revealed it was full of undead members of a high school band who were now attempting to claw their way out!
Though this band may have been in no condition to play, there was never a shortage of LIVE music at Nightmare on Chicago Street! With multiple stages, guests were guaranteed to be tapping their feet to cover music no matter which block they’re on.
The sun set and the streets quickly filled. Navigation soon became a challenge; especially on the road with the food vendors. Thank Heavens we grabbed those nachos when we did!
Despite the crowds, I still managed to bump into some friends. One was Susan Hoss who joined me during this past Flashback Weekend. Susan is part of Elgin’s Eastern Groove Studio who were slated to dance at the event. While I did manage to catch the tail end of one of their performances, I totally missed Susan. Doh!
I also bumped into my Lincoln Park Zoo pals, Allycia & Marisa. Marisa had donned Mexican “Day of the Dead” make-up (in a related story, there is a Day of the Dead festival taking place right here in Elgin this Sunday that I plan to attend) while my fellow STAR WARS fanatic pal, Elliott Serrano, payed homage to Chewbacca.
We stopped by Elgin’s Martini Room for a cocktail which was garnished with a mock eyeball. Unfortunately that first drink would also represent my last since I had my kids with me. I split from my friends as we headed back out into the streets. It was time to start getting some shots of this year’s amazing costumes and now was the perfect time to do so. I told the girls that I intended to photograph no less than fifty people before Svengoolie arrived.
Jade about flipped. “Daddy, that’s impossible!”
I just laughed. “No, my dear. At this event it’ll be a piece of cake.”
Coming up…the costumes of Nightmare on Chicago Street!