On Saturday, December 7th, I pulled into Saint John’s Church in Lyons, Illinois to see Sventa Claus. The holiday version of MeTV’s horror host, Svengoolie, has become a tradition here in Chicago and one aspect of our local-gone-national celebrity we can still claim for ourselves. I was looking forward to seeing him while also supporting my friend, Lozen Brownbear. Lozen’s an animal-lover like myself and I’d attended her “Mystic Market” fundraiser up in Elmhurst last year. It’s a great way to pick up some unique, hand-crafted gifts for the holidays while sending much-needed funds to her furry friends at the Sacred Space Animal Sanctuary and Rescue.
With the kids and I settled in our new place I haven’t been this excited about the holidays in years. We’ve got a new pre-lit Christmas tree that offers both color and white lights, a freezer full of homemade cookies awaiting decoration, and a honey baked ham for the big day. In fact, I’ve been feeling so festive these days I don’t even mind the local 24/7 holiday music station that usually drives up a wall.
Yet, despite all the trappings, it wasn’t until last weekend at the Elmhurst Animal Care Center that I really felt the holiday spirit. This was thanks to their annual “mystic” fundraiser/adoption featuring adorable puppies, spooky artisans, and my favorite celebrity; national horror host, Svengoolie, in his seasonal “Sventa Claus” attire! And if there’s one holiday tradition to uphold, it’s seeing Sventa.
Flying in with his red-nosed, rubber chicken, Sventa Claus dropped in on Fantasy Costumes last weekend to greet fans. I’d seen him there last October in his less festive, Svengoolie, persona and it was notable for attracting a large turnout despite inclement weather. In contrast, this December day was sunny and in the 60’s proving once again that, so far as the weather goes, Chicago’s always riding the Bi-Polar Express. This would mark the horror host’s final 2017 appearance and third as Sventa. Unable to attend the previous two, I made it a point to rearrange my schedule for this one. And so, with a camera strap around my neck and a poster tube under each arm, I made my way to Fantasy Costumes a.k.a. my 82nd Svengoolie appearance!
The second and final stop of Svengoolie’s 2013 “Sventa Claus” appearances…
The next weekend, Svengoolie would return, this time appearing at Alternative Reality Comics in Mt Greenwood: a shop owned by a man named Tim Davis. Davis is pals with my fellow Goolie, Brian Bernardoni, and it’s his store window that hosts Brian’s amazing Svengoolie coffin & props when not being utilized for Brian’s Halloween yard haunt (and you can check out that fantastic set-up by clicking HERE). At last our mutual idol would get to see Brian’s great work in person which I know had always been a dream of Brians. It also gave the world another opportunity to meet Sventa Claus…the first ever outside of Comic Collector.
Well my friends, it’s that time of year when we celebrate family traditions, gathering with friends, gift giving…and Svengoolie! Yes, leave it to our national TV horror host to throw conventional holiday wisdom down the chimney and make the yuletide season friendly for us horror fans (who, contrary to Andy Williams, consider October to be the “most wonderful time of year”) as well! A few years back, Sven adopted the persona of “Sventa Claus” which, in Chicago, has become something of a holiday tradition in and of itself.