I arrived at Elgin’s Nightmare on Chicago Street early this year. It seemed a wise choice in lieu of their having pre-sold over 8,000 tickets and my desire to find a decent parking spot. With the weather clear and in the ‘70s that day, it was no surprise that they’d end up bringing an additional 10,000 and technically “sell out” (though I don’t believe anyone was turned away). My first stop was Svengoolie Headquarters where Elizabeth Haney and Alice Moring had my passes. The local-turned-national horror host has been a staple of this event since the very beginning and this year his HQ was right across from Elgin’s Martini Room. It offered a back room where I could store my Sven shirt in anticipation of his appearance at 8pm. Alice and Elizabeth would end up surprising me with one of their own shirts which really made me happy since I loved this year’s design. I think it’s because it reminded me of the cover of an ‘80s comic book and I was BIG comic nerd back in the day.
They also handed me a map and encouraged me to venture into the streets as the both the living and the “undead” prepared for the crowds. I walked pass a fountain spouting orange water and took in some of the other great embellishments the city of Elgin offered for this event.
Of course you can’t have a celebration without food & drinks and all the vendors made sure that their menus reflected the occasion…
By far the best was a cake that looked Tim Curry’s Pennywise the Clown! It was created by Cake by One Bakery in Elgin!
I was joined by my friends, Chris Carr and Kim Henriksen, just as the event opened their gates. Chris was decked out in his Jason Voorhees costume which I discussed in a recent post on Horrorhound Weekend. There was some initial disappointment that “Jason” couldn’t bring his plastic machete into the event as domestic terrorism continues to ruin Halloween for the rest of us. In fact, the police detail was doubled with absolutely no chances being taken in lieu of the recent Vegas shooting. Once again, poor Jason would have to get by with only his killer looks.
This was the first year Kim and Chris saw Nightmare on Chicago Street and they both seemed to really enjoy it. While they took in all the crazy sights around them, I tried to photograph as many of the costumes I could find; especially since the sun was starting to set!
Of course it isn’t until it gets dark when things really come alive at this event! We saw a man performing with a fire sword and a ghoulish. half naked window dancer.
I left my friends around 7:30 and headed back to Svengoolie HQ. This year there was a life-sized, cardboard cut-out of Sven in the window from an appearance the host did at Elgin’s Gail Borden Public Library last July. They created two for that event: one given to this event and the other to Svengoolie himself. I was fortunate enough to have seen that one at the station in August and it took everything in my power not to grab it and run for the exit! If there’s anything that would really make my Svengoolie shrine “pop” it’s one of these guys!
Once inside, I took a seat in a comfy couch to rest my legs a bit. C2E2 and Nightmare on Chicago Street are the two annual events that have me on my feet the longest, so spotting that leather couch was almost like seeing a mirage. When Svengoolie entered the scene he, too, got some “couch” time while waving to his fans outside.
When the signing started I made myself useful by helping Jim Roche out with selling Sven shirts. It’s a good way to let him do what he does best, managing the line, while I’m in a great spot for photographing any interesting fans.
I think the funniest was a gal (Penny) dressed as Pee Wee Herman. When she was getting her picture taken with Sven, he did his Pee Wee imitation which inspired her to do hers. It was fun to watch and you could tell she was having the time of her life.
Walking Dead fans take note, Lucille is now boasting a Svengoolie signature to highlight her barbed wire!
There must be some new clause I missed that the last fan in line at Nightmare on Chicago Street must be dressed like a rubber chicken. Last year it was a guy but this year a woman who began her meeting with Sven asking, “So, should I throw myself at you?”
The signing ended quickly and then it was time to go see the costume contest, hosted by Svengoolie and Elliott Serrano. I ran out in the crowd and headed to the stage where I found a great spot in the front row. While I waited, some guy started telling me his life story and all about his job. Needless to say, if anyone has any questions about working for Amazon, I think I may now qualify as an expert. The show started and it was band called “97 Nine” which plays classic rock like Chicago’s classic rock station, 97.9 FM. I figured they must be doing an encore before the contest started.
Seven songs later I realized that something was terribly wrong. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the map Alice gave me only to discover that I had gone to the wrong stage. At this point I was trapped by the immense crowd and accepted the fact that I had missed the contest. Still, all wasn’t lost. The band was really good and I joined the crowd in signing Judas Priest’s “Living After Midnight.” It actually worked out well as my camera’s batteries died soon after. With no more pressure to “cover” the event I had guilt in getting lost in it instead. By the time they performed a KISS song I’d completely gotten over my wrong turn. One thing about Nightmare on Chicago Street, you’re guaranteed to have a helluva great time!
If you’d like to see my video footage of this event, you can check out the Svengoolie footage here on my original, Svengoolie-centric YouTube Channel here…
If you’d like to see the general Nightmare on Chicago Street stuff then check out this video from my new YouTube Channel Halloween 365 and please subscribe while you’re at it!