After enjoying an afternoon seeing the animals at Brookfield Zoo, we headed over to their Discovery Center where my AAZK (American Association of Zookeepers) Chapter was hosting its annual Vital Ground fundraiser. It’s an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner with the money raised to be used for obtaining property out west in grizzly bear country. The buildings or lots purchased are then converted back to their natural state so the animals can use them for travel and aid in finding mates, food, etc. I’ve been going to these dinners long before I joined AAZK because they also feature an appearance by my favorite horror host, Svengoolie…the man indirectly responsible for bringing us Terror Daves together in the first place.
The seeds of this event were actually sewn during Svengoolie’s appearance at “The Squared Circle” (covered HERE). I mentioned in that post meeting a couple of zoo keepers from The Lincoln Park Zoo; one of whom, Marisa, had arrived with local Chicago Red-eye writer, Elliott Serano. Elliott’s a fellow Svengoolie fan and had just written a big story on the host. He’d brought Marisa along that night so she could sign folks up for her zoo’s AAZK Chapter’s (American Association of Zoo Keepers) “Bowling for Rhinos” with Sven as one of their celebrity guests. Svengoolie has graciously assisted my own Brookfield Zoo AAZK chapter with our annual Vital Grounds fundraiser (providing opportunities for the New England Terror Dave, David Albaugh, to meet him as covered HERE and HERE) and accepted her invitation…even if appearing only as his mild-mannered alter ego, Rich Koz.
This past Saturday was a day I both dreaded and anticipated with a flurry of events (none of which I wanted to miss) all converging at once. For starters, it was the weekend of G-FEST (Godzilla Festival) which I’ve attended faithfully with my kids since 2004. In fact, if you’re a Japanese monster fan, your entire calendar year pretty much revolves around it. Though it offers plenty of activities throughout the weekend, Saturday evenings are known for being the show’s climax with their highly anticipated costume contest.
I was attending a Brookfield Chapter AAZK (American Association of Zoo Keepers) meeting at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo late last year when the subject of our annual Vital Grounds spaghetti dinner/fundraiser came up. As they’ve been doing this event for several years now, they’ve pretty much got it all down to a science (food, auction items, ticket info, etc).
There was one aspect of the occasion, however, that wasn’t quite so clear…namely the entertainment. For the past several years, Chicago-gone-national horror host, Svengoolie, had been their featured guest which guaranteed a strong turn-out & much-needed funds for the cause. However, with Sven’s health scare in November that was no longer a certainty. Everyone at the table turned and looked at me…
If you grew up a dinosaur fan like me, then you probably remember the release of 1993’s Jurassic Park as being a cinematic game changer! Not only did it feature the most REAL looking dinosaurs ever to stomp the Silver Screen, but also ones that were (at the time) the most scientifically accurate. Gone were the days of two-legged, meat-eaters like Tyrannosaurus Rex standing up straight while dragging its tail behind him as Steven Spielberg proved that CGI effects (when done correctly) were the wave of the future. This past weekend not only saw the re-release of that film (in a new 3D format), but also the opening of an animatronic dinosaur exhibit at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo! What a wonderful time to be a dino-geek…especially one living near The Windy City!
Early last summer, I published some photos of Brookfield Zoo’s 2012 “X-Treme Bugs” exhibit (see HERE). Sadly, this special exhibit has swarmed and gone but not before giving guests one last look during their “Creatures of the Night” event. Here are some pictures that will surely appeal those of us who grew up devoted to those giant atomic bug movies that were so popular back in the ’50s.
On Friday, October 19th, I was joined by my friend and Terror Dave Girl Friday (the 13th), Elizabeth Ocon, along with my son, Alex, to get our first glimpse at Brookfield Zoo’s 2012 “Creatures of the night!”
Horror Host, Svengoolie, was slated to arrive at 7pm but, by 6:30, there was already a long line winding around the zoo’s Discovery Center to see him. Svengoolie never disappoints when it comes to drawing large crowds at Brookfield Zoo! I remember at last year’s event (covered HERE) the line wrapped around the bison yard and eventually had to get cut off. In an effort to accomodate all of the eager fans, no pictures were permitted, just autographs. It didn’t seem to damper anyones mood and many found clever ways to snap pictures with him anyway while Sven added his own humorous touches.