I hadn’t seen Svengoolie in person since December 2019 when he was dressed as his holiday alter ego, Sventa Claus, at the Mystic Market in Lyons. It was a fun occasion and, in the spirit of giving, I brought him an animatronic Creature from the Black Lagoon figure I’d purchased from Days of the Dead. I recall it ending with my friends and I toasting another successful year of Sven-chasing since, for us, attending his appearances was not unlike following a favorite band on tour. In this regard, the Mystic Market was something of a finale’ – though we could never have known at the time just how final that would be. We took for granted the tradition would continue on into the coming year not knowing a Pandemic was lurking just around the corner. So, with 2020 a wash, we looked at the summer of 2021 as a bastion of hope.
By July, Chicago had lifted its indoor mask mandate and, further cementing a feeling of normalcy, Svengoolie signed on for his first public appearance in over a year. Unfortunately, the closer Flashback Weekend loomed, the more news of the virus’ Delta variant started making headlines. Suddenly, what should have been a joyous occasion had a giant black cloud hanging over it. I was excited to join the Svengoolie crew and see my favorite horror host again but with a fair share of trepidation.
For all intents and purposes, this past Flashback Weekend should have been an amazing experience. Like most annual events, the convention was canceled last year due to Covid leaving horror fans even more anxious to commune in 2021. I’d reserved my room at the Hyatt Regency in Rosemont, Illinois months in advance and even took the whole week after off for vacation. I’d saved plenty of cash and had a detailed list of all the guests I wanted to meet and items I wanted to have signed. Unfortunately, not an hour after the doors opened I got word that a family member using my car for the weekend crashed it. This situation resulted in my spending the bulk of my Friday night in my room and on the phone. Saturday was my day to work with the Svengoolie crew and, with my car out of commission, I had to arrange for someone else to pick me up from the hotel on Sunday. They could only get me at 10 am a.k.a. an hour before the convention opened that day. I had little time to accomplish my goals and the singer, Meatloaf, would end up stealing half of it. In the end, After failing to reach the majority of my Flashback Weekend objectives, it’s no wonder I’ve spent the last four months trying to forget it. In fact, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago when Svengoolie’s producer, Jim Roche, reached out about sharing my pictures with them that I realized they were still unloaded on my camera.