I’ve never attended a horror event that was being protested before but this would be the first. I’m not talking Kent State level protesting of course but rather just a few religious people screaming at everyone who was trying to enter. Personally, protesting doesn’t bother me as the right to do so helps make our country what it is. However, being in close proximity to somebody screaming at the top of their lungs is irritating no matter what the cause. Unfortunately, that’s what we had here with a couple guys holding a sign while another yelled about choosing Jesus over the Satan. Instead of just ignoring them, some guy felt the need to go up and start an argument. On the one hand, I was irritated by his feeding into their nonsense while on the other grateful his distraction provided me safe passage inside.
Regardless of the shenanigans outside, the Paranormal Convention in Bridgeview was already underway. I paid my entrance fee and was delighted to see they had MeTV’s national horror host, Svengoolie, on the ticket. My daughter, Leia, had just put together three shadow boxes of my Sven memorabilia and now I had something new to add to it.
This was my 99th Svengoolie appearance since rediscovering him on TV in 2003 and during that time I’ve picked up a few friends along the way. Three of them were already in line – Ron and Angela Urban (a.k.a. “Don and Bunny”) whom I last saw during Flashback Weekend and Chicago politico, Brian Bernardoni. Brian was instrumental in getting Svengoolie Day passed in Illinois five years ago and does an amazing yard haunt in his native Justice, Illinois. This year he’s helped facilitate another honor for the horror host with an official Resolution from Chicago’s City Council. That event will be part of Sven’s 40th Anniversary festivities at the Museum of Broadcast Communications on October 26th.
When I reached my friends Brian was bedazzling Bunny with his Chicago Cubs Championship ring. The two are both huge Cubs fans and Brian even gives tours of Wrigley Field. For my Grandma Francesconi’s 90th birthday he arranged for the team to send her a birthday card (she just celebrated her 95th btw). He’s a great guy and has done wonderful things in the world of Svendom.
The line for Sven stretched the entire perimeter, above the convention.
I didn’t know it until I arrived, but the event was being emceed by Count Gregula. The Count and Countess Gregula had joined me on a few adventures during the earlier days of this site but it’s been years since I’d seen them. They used to make a labor-of-love horror host show but have since joined forces with Chicago NOW; covering local events like the big Auto Show in February as well as porn conventions. The Gregulas were fashionably late for this event and I watched them mingle from my bird’s eye vantage point. Later, the Count took to the stage and welcomed everyone to the event. Unfortunately, between the gymnasium acoustics and microphone, it was unintelligible from where I was standing. Suddenly he looked up to the rafters and welcomed Svengoolie as he arrived.
I had Svengoolie sign my latest issue of Scary Monsters Magazine which features an article I did on his 40th Anniversary.
Wanting to take full advantage of us all being together, we asked Jim to capture the moment.
We made our way back downstairs to see the Gregulas taking a break by the food area. Gregula was telling me about a Vampire convention that was supposed to be happening in Chicago but fell through. Apparently, the organizer was writing rubber checks and an all-around shyster. Talking to the Gregulas, I forgot how fun they could be. Under the limelight of Svengoolie are some quirky, yet amusing, horror folks roving the Windy City.
Many of the vendors I’ve seen at other events such as the recent Oddities one.
The only thing I was tempted to buy was some Halloween cookies that almost looked too good to eat. It was a not so subtle reminder that I was famished and I left with the Urbans who invited me out for a meal. And fortunately, by that time, those perky protesters were long gone.