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.
Last Saturday I was sitting at my work desk while gazing at the tempest outside. Since it was the weekend, I had the whole office to myself and decided to turn off the main lights in favor of a small one hanging over my computer. With the dark clouds and rain pounding on my window, it seemed to make the otherwise chaotic place cozier; something you could never accomplish during normal business hours. With Halloween only a couple weeks away, we Chicagoans can be sure of two things; the weather will be erratic and our local/national TV horror host, Svengoolie, will be amidst a busy schedule of appearances. In fact, it almost seemed like this year’s list of events rivaled that of his ultra-busy 2012. I’d covered almost all of those and remember being thoroughly exhausted by the time it was over. This year, however, my “Svengoolie-stalking” activities were clearly lacking as my schedule never seemed to be in sync with his. On this rainy day, however, he was slated to make two appearances with one starting just when my shift ended. I decided it was high time I broke out of my Svenertia. and braved the elements to see him at Fantasy Costumes – the largest costume shop in the windy city!
One week from today the Indianapolis Marriott East will be bustling with horror fans and celebrities! I’ll be one of those proud fans and can’t wait go shopping in their immense dealer’s room, get a picture with Spike and Drusilla from my all-time favorite TV show, and smell the scent of latex while perusing the masks at MASK-FEST! This our final batch of photos as, this time next week, I’ll be driving out for it. In fact, I hate to cut this short, but I’ve got some packing to do….See you at MASK-FEST! ~Dave Fuentes
Bear with me, folks, I’ve had this story sitting in a draft folder since May and apologize for discussing the “Halfway to Halloween” mark when we’re closing in on the big day itself. Regardless, it was too cool an event to pass up and I’m pretty sure I speak for most of us when I say Halloween is a lifestyle and not just some date on the calendar anyway. So let’s get to it…
It all happened on May 5th when I returned from work and found my two youngest kids (both teens) lounging in the living room and staring at their phones. Since February, this single dad’s been working two jobs/seven days a week so the scene didn’t so much annoy me as make me feel guilty for my short-comings. I’ve always prided myself as being a “fun” dad but it seemed like this year I could do very little outside business hours, including weekends. Despite being tired and wanting to zone out in front of my own electronics, I was determined to make this Friday night different. I’d accomplish this by taking them to Elgin, Illinois for the city’s fifth annual (and our first) Monster-Mash Up. Needless to say, when I asked them to put on their shoes and join me, they weren’t exactly jumping for joy over it. So I sat down and explained that after our seeing the premiere of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 the night before, I was reminded of how long it had been since we’d done anything fun together. Even if the event proved a bust and they wanted to glare at me all night long, at least we’d be together. Apparently my locker room speech paid off because they both got up without an argument and prepared for the hour’s journey to Elgin.
I left work early last Thursday to attend the Roe Conn Halloween show in Frankfurt, Illinois. For those unaware, Conn is a well known, Chicago-based talk-radio personality who’s hosted national shows for over two decades. Although I’ve been familiar with his voice since back in his “Roe & Gary” days, I saw him for the first time at last year’s Halloween show which was at the same venue, CD & Me. Of course my attendance was based on the return of their special guest, Svengoolie, whom I hadn’t seen in almost a FULL week since Elgin’s Nightmare on Chicago Street. Talk about a dry spell! If only I could figure out a way to declare all my Sven-chasing gas mileage at tax time.
There was still sunlight when I arrived at the Elgin Safe Zone for their annual Nightmare on Chicago Street this past Saturday evening. This year I’d be attending alone as most of my friends were back home watching the Chicago Cubs play in a historic baseball game that would see them heading to the World Series for the first time in over seventy years. Under those circumstances, their absence was understandable…and what better reason to skip a zombie Apocalypse than for the possibility of watching Hell freeze over instead? In my world, however, the Nightmare on Chicago Street IS the World Series and there was no place I’d rather be.
During a recent visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden, my friend Elizabeth and I noticed they were planning a special Halloween attraction that neither of us wanted to miss out on. Their “Night of a 1,000 Jack O’ Lanterns” promised guests a cornucopia of expertly carved pumpkins they could peruse after hours during one very special weekend. It was their first year doing something like this and Elizabeth was immediately captivated while I (having attended Roger Williams Park Zoo’s amazing Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular) remained cautiously optimistic. After all, New England’s premier Halloween event is unlike anything I’d ever seen in the Midwest (or anywhere else for that matter) before and I’d praised its grandeur on both this site as well as a 2012 issue of Scary Monsters Magazine. Sadly, my chances of seeing it again and somewhere between slim and none. The other Terror Dave works there and as his responsibilities around that event increased, my October visits came to an end. For the last several years my admiration of JOLS has been relegated to cell phone pictures he’ll send me every once in awhile. Needless to say, the notion that Chicago was now doing something like this seemed too much to hope for.