Other 2017 Haunt Reviews
By Kevin Biksacky
It's March, and you know what that means? Halloween is almost here. Well, for most people in the Haunted Attraction Industry it is. Now it is the time to get started and prepare for the 2018 season. Local haunted houses and attractions design, make purchases, and plan for this October's attendees. (insert record scratch sound here) This time I'm not talking about any haunted house. What I am talking about is the largest Halloween party of the year in Illinois. The party I'm going to tell you about has so many guests that it takes a city to put it together. I'm talking about 'Nightmare on Chicago Street' in Elgin. I have visited Elgin a few times a year for its varied "Haunter" attractions. They have a top rated haunt, a horror fest, and a Krampus event. On top of all that, the city itself, has a very rich and somewhat spooky history.
But Nightmare on Chicago Street (NoCS) is a multifaceted gathering and it all starts this spring. It all starts with the people, like Barb Keselica. Elgin's Special Events and Community Manager who helps provide the entertainment that is all around you. From the guests to staff zombies, performing freakshows to the live music on stage. It would be very difficult to be bored at a gala event like this. During the evening last year, entertainment was scheduled all night. With three stages of live music, graffiti artists providing live performance art, a freak show found near the hookah lounge and DJ Cold spinning in the center of town. Much of the entertainment are returning artists, or selected to fit the current theme that the city was going for. Hairbangers Ball and and 97Nine played all night on the mainstage and other artists Such as Sixteen Candles, The Shagadelics. GooRoos, Too White Crew, and DJ Black can be found on the borders of the containment area. Once you pass through the checkpoint and cleared for entrance, no zombie virus found, you have access to the entire gathering. What is there to expect? It's eight city blocks of food and product vendors, celebrity appearances, music, bars, and a costume contest. There will be ZOMBIES!!!
"It may seem in those first 2 hours, that the elements are mere movement in the street, but once a visitor detects infected High School Marching Band musicians de-boarding a burning school bus and breaking into Michael Jackson's Thriller in the street; or tribal warriors invading Mad Max territory; or sexy Silent Hill nurses intimidating or capturing guests for the morgue ~ the guests understand this is indeed a unique outdoor city evening."
-Judi Brownfield, Street Theatre Coordinator
And Judi is right. For months they work together so the actors are not just eye candy but also acting the part and making sure you are getting the full experience. Comprised of over 270 volunteer staff members, they work closely with the event's organizers to make sure everyone is entertained and stays safe. If you are a zombiephobic, well OK I made that word up, but people who do suffer from Kinemortophobia are perfectly safe. Uniformed police and S.W.A.T. members (no, those are not costumes) are in force not only to keep the city safe but also to clear off unwanted zombie hordes. There are plenty of first responders nearby to take care of all the civil needs.
It's a Halloween fetishes dream. Costumes are encouraged at NoCS with one zero tolerance rule. No weapons, this means no fake, real or toy weapon of any kind, which is not a big deal. Who wants to carry a sword when their hands are filled with beer and tacos? Everywhere you look, attendees are taking pictures of and with their fellow revellers, making new friends along the way. Expect to return the favor as you will be asked to pose for a snapshot by both amateur and professional photographers. The costume contest near the end of the evening is really a great show, and last year Rich Koz as Svengoolie himself was the Master of Ceremonies. Finalists are chosen by a group of judges and the audience makes the ultimate decision on who would win in one of each of the three categories by their applause. Well now back to the tacos I was talking about earlier... Other than the independent restaurants that will be open for this special event there is a whole grub gauntlet to bear down on. From latin fare as previously mentioned there are bakeries, standard american chow and a variety of "carnival eats". And after you're full and blind by all the flashes of the photos, you can go shopping. There is a vendor area in one section of town; this macabre mall will have about a dozen and a half of individuals that provide services or sell goods, most of which is Halloween related.
If you are wondering, the ZDI (Zombie Defense Initiative) crew has even found a way to disguise the area to fool you so you don't think you are just walking around downtown Elgin. Fredderick Wimms has other plans for the average spectator. He is the creator of the many props and added scenery you will witness at this gathering. Some of the shops that line the streets you will notice have been boarded up. You might find a temporary shelter, or barricade. Maybe a bus that hit a light pole and currently on fire, many of these apocalyptic images come from Fred. He has been the driving force to come up with sets and scenes to immerse all visitors to the safe zone. This past year they added a few larger and interactive displays occupied by actors. Every year he as been known to add a little, and it all builds up.
Conventions are their main form of advertising other than their social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. From C2E2 to Walker Stalker, you might see a zombie laden booth talking about NoCS. If you happen to pass by, please inquire. You may find out this is something you will want to do. Tickets will be available at a later date. Please check the website. All tickets are general admission and they do offer a VIP option and that's for a parking pass in the public garage on the Northeastern border of the containment area. See you this October!
Facebook- Nightmare on Chicago Street