It was a chilly December evening when I headed up to Elgin, Illinois to experience their annual “Krampus Krawl.” After seeing it advertised during the city’s Nightmare on Chicago Street, I knew it was something I had to experience first hand, and I’m so glad that I did! I mean, seriously, just because Halloween is over doesn’t mean we still can’t enjoy a few more sinister events before the year is out. This particular one was brought to Elgin by John LaFleur and sponsored by Side Street Studios whom I’ve mentioned before. Their shop served as Svengoolie’s headquarters during the last “Nightmare” and I swear if I lived anywhere near Elgin, I’d be signing up for just about every workshop and art class they have to offer! Though the celebration of Krampuslauf is relatively new to American culture, the recent success of the film, Krampus, along with other events popping up around the country show that it’s quickly gaining its own spot on our busy December calendars. The festival originated in the Alpine regions of Europe and honors the darker version of St. Nicholas; a horned creature named Krampus whose job isn’t to reward the good kids but punish the naughty ones. With our culture’s shift towards more self-entitled and less, shall we say, respectful children, one can’t help but wonder if the sudden rise of Krampus over the past decade is much of a coincidence. Regardless of whatever possible sociological commentary it may carry (if any) it’s definitely proving to be a lot of fun for us naughty adults!
Here’s how the night unfolded…
I parked my car and headed to Dog’s Paw Brewing in the heart of Elgin. This was the tavern designated as the start of the “Krawl” and I arrived about fifteen minutes before it was slated to begin. As soon as I walked in I saw Father Christmas himself who’d later serve as the Krampus ringleader.
I began the evening with a holiday nip and ordered myself a one of their seasonal drinks.
It was really tasty, however, in my eagerness to start the celebration, I didn’t notice that the edge of the glass had been dipped in chocolate syrup and ended up with a moustache like a kid guzzling a milkshake. Fortunately nobody noticed as all eyes were focused on the door where a group of Krampus’ began entering. All were unique and wearing original masks they’d created at Side Street Studios.
My friend, Elliott Serrano a.k.a. Chicago’s “King of Geeks,” joined me soon after and we decided to stay for dinner. Though the decision caused us to miss the next Krawl spot (enjoying Krampus S’mores) we’d both worked all day and needed something with a bit more sustenance. After eating and catching up a bit, we rejoined the Krampus’ at Elgin’s Martini Room.
I grabbed us a couple of “Krampus Mules” (served in brass mugs and very tasty) while joining our friend Alice Morning; one of the masterminds behind the Nightmare on Chicago Street.
Across the street was The Blue Box Café (yes, Dr. WHO fans, I mean that Blue Box) which was soon jammed with people…and Krampus!’
Despite the tight squeeze, I managed to carve out enough room to photograph one of the Krampus’ who turned out to be someone I knew; Tim Solarz from the former Space Taste Gallery which we featured a few years back.
Tim and I caught up a bit before he was alerted to get back in character for the final leg of our journey, Side Street Studios!
As soon as you walked in there was beer and wine offered to the left while an Alpine band performed on the right.
Everyone socialized while enjoying cocktails and taking in the gallery of Krampus inspired artwork.
Before leaving, it was time to take a group photo of all the Krampus!’
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from The Terror Daves!