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.
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.
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.
Svengoolie was given new headquarters at this year’s Nightmare on Chicago Street, and a classier one at that. Side Street Studio Arts is yet another reason to love the city of Elgin, Illinois; providing residents an opportunity to express their creative side and a venue to display their work. Consequently, the national TV horror host would find himself sitting amid sinister, yet beautiful, works of art; all part of their Something Wicked: A Dark Arts Exhibit. The line outside to see him started forming almost as soon as the event began and for good reason as he’d only be signing for an hour before hosting the annual costume contest
The other day I promised fifty pictures sampling some of the great costumes seen at this year’s Nightmare on Chicago Street but, as a special Halloween treat I’ll be giving you closer to sixty! So grab a bowl of Trick or Treat candy and see why this is our favorite holiday!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN from the Terror Daves!
I no sooner said goodbye to the ladies of Midnite Mausoleum before earning myself a speeding ticket trying to zoom back east for Elgin’s Nightmare on Chicago Street. If you’ve ever attended one of these in the past than you’d understand my exuberance as well as all the hyperbole I’ve used to describe it over the years; both on this site as well as in the latest issue of Scary Monsters Magazine.
Picture several city blocks created to look like a zombie apocalypse; complete with militia roaming an undead “Safe Zone” while garnering inspiration from their own macabre Uncle Sam; national TV horror host, Svengoolie. You can’t blame me for making this my favorite stop during the Halloween season, nor for having a led foot while trying to get there.
In this regard, I’m far from alone. Now celebrating its fifth year, Nightmare on Chicago Street has fast become Chicagoland’s premiere Halloween experience with last year’s attendance reaching over 12,000 people!
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!