Jack O’Lantern Spectacular is a seasonal event that began in New England and has since spread to Louisville, Kentucky and (more recently) the Minnesota Zoo. It boasts 5,000 carved pumpkins which include your simple jack o’ lanterns along with the “intricates.” These eye-catching works of art feature detailed images that are truly breathtaking. Last year I visited the Louisville event on November 1st but never posted any of those pics since…well…Halloween was over. So when my friend, Jason Schoolcraft, sent shots from the JOLS taking place at his Roger Williams Park Zoo in Rhode Island, I figured I’ share pictures of both. I should note that just like any carved pumpkin, these don’t last and are always being swapped out for new designs. So let’s dive in…
Walking into Hofbrauhaus Chicago (actually in Rosemont) is like teleporting to Europe. The German restaurant/microbrewery is highlighted by giant kettles of beer, Bavarian décor, an alphorn (those long horns from the ricolo commercials), and folks dressed in traditional Oktoberfest clothes. Here the alcohol flows freely with shots served on a wooden paddle they’ll smack your butt with upon request. Having already gotten whupped by the $15 parking fee, I decided to skip the additional beating an opt for a glass of water instead. I do love a good novelty restaurant though this wasn’t the sort of place I’d have ever visited if not for the annual Roe Conn Halloween show. This was my third year attending the occasion with the last two having taken place in the south suburbs where I live. After an hour’s drive I brushed past their gift shop (loaded with collectible steins) and took a seat as close to the stage as I could get. The room was huge with rows of long tables and I tried taking in as much as I could while the waitress handed me a menu.
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!
Welcome to yet another edition in our very popular series, Music To Die For! Each entry covers an assortment of audio cd’s specializing in music to help get you in the mood for the Halloween season. This is actually the sixth entry and features 8 new cd’s (and a surprise bonus track available for download) that I came across that I recommend for all Halloween music libraries! I initially started this series in September of 2011 (see original post HERE) and it is nice to see that five years later there is still enough material out there for new editions! As of this writing all of these discs are available for purchase on Amazon!
THE BEST OF HORROR
This first entry is definitely a great starter collection with 75 songs on three cd’s. There is enough music here, all by original artists, to keep a Halloween party rocking well into the midnight hour! Most of these songs can be found on other releases but this collection, by IMS Distribution, is perfect if you are just getting into Halloween-themed songs.
Thanks to the 2015 Flashback Weekend, I was able to add two more signatures to my Halloween (1978) poster; Charles Cyphers (Sheriff Leigh Brackett) and Nick Castle (Michael Myers or, as billed, “the Shape”). If you walked into the main ballroom, the vendors took up the bulk of the space while celebrity guests could be seen along the room’s perimeter and in a row of booths located on the far left side. After checking out all the merchandise, we found ourselves exactly where we needed to be and at a good time as well. There was Nick Castle, Michael Myers, sitting there all by himself and ready for us to meet!
This year’s Flashback Weekend paid homage to the Halloween films (original, remake, and sequels) and featured numerous cast members from the franchise(s) along with an outdoor screening of the original John Carpenter classic.
Joining me on this adventure was the beautiful Susan Hoss who last appeared during our coverage of the Hearse Show (which you can check out HERE). Since Susan looks a helluva lot better in front of the camera than I do, I figured I’d do you all a favor and showcase her in most of the photos rather than myself (you’re welcome). Flashback Weekend is a family run expo (Mike and Mia Kerz) and usually more navigable than the corporate ones I attend. Consequently, if meeting a horror celebrity is the goal, I find it a LOT easier doing so here. This year’s theme worked out perfectly since it meant adding more signatures to my 1978 Halloween poster. It would also be the the first time I’d see Svengoolie and his crew since C2E2 and this year he’d not only show up for his customary Saturday appearance (greeting fans and hosting the annual costume contest) but also returning the next day for a a special event (more on that later).