On Saturday, December 7th, I pulled into Saint John’s Church in Lyons, Illinois to see Sventa Claus. The holiday version of MeTV’s horror host, Svengoolie, has become a tradition here in Chicago and one aspect of our local-gone-national celebrity we can still claim for ourselves. I was looking forward to seeing him while also supporting my friend, Lozen Brownbear. Lozen’s an animal-lover like myself and I’d attended her “Mystic Market” fundraiser up in Elmhurst last year. It’s a great way to pick up some unique, hand-crafted gifts for the holidays while sending much-needed funds to her furry friends at the Sacred Space Animal Sanctuary and Rescue.
Despite arriving early, my friends, Ron and Angela Urban, were already waiting in the lot. Angie rolled down the window and invited me to wait with them in the car. I’d sat in that same seat just a month earlier while tagging along with them to Svengoolie’s 40th Anniversary celebration at the Museum of Broadcast Communications. I’m skipping ahead to talk about this appearance first since I’m so behind with my writing I’ll end up posting a holiday blog in June. As soon as I got situated, I pulled out a special gift I’d brought for Sven. It was an animatronic “Creature from the Black Lagoon” doll officially licensed by Universal Studios back 1992. I’d already given him the Wolf Man a few years back and it’s made numerous appearances on his show ever since. I snagged this elusive gem at the Chicago “Days of the Dead” convention (yet another series of blogs I’ve yet to get to) in November. The Urbans were there too and had already seen the creature. This time, however, it had batteries and was fully operational. I even got it a small Santa Claus hat to commemorate the occasion.
The Market was open but the separate entrance to see Sventa Claus was shut until closer to his 2 PM start time. Despite leaving the car immediately after the door opened, a line had already formed out the door. Tickets to see Sventa were $15 per person or $20 if you wanted a souvenir photo. Even if you opted out of the picture, you were allowed to take shots using your own camera for free – but the money was all for charity. Sventa Claus and his right-hand elf, Jim Roche, arrived shortly after and he took a seat at a table set before a warm, holiday backdrop. Lozen was accompanying them and as soon as she saw me, motioned for me to come up.
I presented Sventa with his new gift and he must have liked it since he set it up on his booth. Dare I say it added the perfect touch of “horror host” to the festive decor.
Also on the table were two beautiful Svengoolie doll “dummies” created by the talented Lozen, herself. One was for Svengoolie and the other to be raffled off.
I exited out to the Mystic Market and made a full rotation of the vendors before stopping back at the very first booth. There was this really neat dragon egg that I knew would be the perfect Christmas gift for one of my daughters who loves dragons. I was just digging out my wallet when Lozen approached me. I think we talked about five minutes before I realized she was the creator of the dragon egg and all the beautiful items featured at this booth! The artist, teacher, and healer is an amazing woman who not only brings beauty to the world but a much-needed sense of calm.
I met up with the Urbans after their signing and they handed me their raffle tickets. Due to a prior engagement, they couldn’t wait for the drawing at 4 PM – and you had to be present to claim the prize. I told them I would hang out until the end and claim the prize for them should they win.
When the big moment arrived, we all huddled in Svengoolie’s signing area as a man brought in the bag of tickets Sventa Claus would be drawing from.
Unfortunately for Ron and Angela, their ticket wasn’t pulled. Instead, the big winner was the patriarch of a family of Svengoolie fans; all arriving in his shirt while brandishing rubber chickens. Naturally, I was rooting for my friends but the excitement level the winning family displayed was downright electric and you couldn’t help but be happy for them.
Afterward, Sventa signed the doll and took photos with the winner!
Sventa Claus at the Mystic Market would wrap up my Svengoolie chasing duties for 2019 – a banner year for the horror host. This was something I was reminded of last Friday when I checked my mailbox and found a holiday card from Svengoolie and crew. The image on the front featured a comic book Svengoolie and a few of the new friends he made earlier this year.