Nightmare on Chicago Street is a Horror Dream Come True!

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.

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Celebrating Halloween (months ago) at Elgin’s “Monster-Mash Up!”

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.

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Krampus: Elgin Celebrates Krampuslauf!

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It was a chilly December evening when I headed up to Elgin, Illinois to experience their annual “Krampus Krawl.” After seeing it advertised during the city’s Nightmare on Chicago Street, I knew it was something I had to experience first hand, and I’m so glad that I did! I mean, seriously, just because Halloween is over doesn’t mean we still can’t enjoy a few more sinister events before the year is out. This particular one was brought to Elgin by John LaFleur and sponsored by Side Street Studios whom I’ve mentioned before. Their shop served as Svengoolie’s headquarters during the last “Nightmare” and I swear if I lived anywhere near Elgin, I’d be signing up for just about every workshop and art class they have to offer! Though the celebration of Krampuslauf is relatively new to American culture, the recent success of the film, Krampus, along with other events popping up around the country show that it’s quickly gaining its own spot on our busy December calendars. The festival originated in the Alpine regions of Europe and honors the darker version of St. Nicholas; a horned creature named Krampus whose job isn’t to reward the good kids but punish the naughty ones. With our culture’s shift towards more self-entitled and less, shall we say, respectful children, one can’t help but wonder if the sudden rise of Krampus over the past decade is much of a coincidence.  Regardless of whatever possible sociological commentary it may carry (if any) it’s definitely proving to be a lot of fun for us naughty adults!

Here’s how the night unfolded…

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Celebrating Mexico’s “Day of the Dead” in Elgin!

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While the weather in Chicago was pretty horrendous on Halloween, the following day was an entirely different story. In fact, it was almost sunny enough to offset the whole “Halloween is over” depression many of us horror/monster fans go through every November 1st.  The weekend, however, wasn’t over yet…

Just the week before I’d been up in Elgin, Illinois to celebrate their amazing Nightmare on Chicago Street event.  While I was there, I’d been alerted to more upcoming festivals taking place and reminded why it’s fast becoming my favorite city! One is Krampuslauf taking place in December which recreates a Northern European festival celebrating Krampus; a more sinister version of Santa Claus. Continue reading

“8 Little Zombies” is One Fun Book!

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While Horror Host, Svengoolie, and his predecessor may have christened Berwyn, Illinois as the epicenter of Chicago horror, that title has since been challenged by the city of Elgin. We’ve discussed their local Acme Design (who’ve carved their own Sven-legacy by creating his new coffin and MeTV set) as well as their annual Nightmare on Chicago Street . Now they can add yet another notch to their horror belt courtesy of local author & illustrator, John LaFleur and David Metzger! 8 Little Zombies is a scarier take on the classic children’s story, 8 Little Monkeys and one that us genre fans would enjoy reading to the little monster kids in our own lives (assuming you want to raise them right, of course). It’s a fun book with amazing artwork and even a forward written by the aforementioned Svengoolie himself!

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A NEW Coffin for Horror Host, Svengoolie!

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It’s after 1am and I’ve just returned from one VERY memorable evening. I attended Elgin, Illinois’ “Nightmare on Chicago Street” which I can say with 100% sincerity was the most satisfying Halloween season event I’ve attended to date! There will be MUCH more on that in future posts. Not only was the event loads of fun, it was downright historic for us Svengoolie fans. After 40 plus years, and a Rich Koz make-over, the original Svengoolie coffin is going into a much-deserved retirement. TONIGHT its successor was finally revealed…

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