Svengoolie visits Elgin for the city’s annual Nightmare on Chicago Street

By Karie Angell Luc for Chronicle Media

Svengoolie signs autographs before taking the stage. (Photo by Karie Angell Luc/for Chronicle Media)

Under cloudy skies and glowing spotlights, people in Halloween costumes formed a line early to meet with the star of the City of Elgin’s annual Nightmare on Chicago Street, Saturday, Oct. 21 — Svengoolie.

Svengoolie, renowned for his hit television show on MeTV, left Berwyn to come to Elgin, prompting attendees who saw the celebrity walk by to ask why he was outside the television box for one Saturday night.

Svengoolie, known as Rich Koz, signed autographs and judged the costume contest.

“I have to say that never in my life did I expect this show to become as big as it is now,” Svengoolie said. “It’s an amazing thing to me.

“When I started, people would always say, ‘Did you think you’d go this long?’ and I said, ‘When I first got the job, I was happy to have a job and be on TV,’ and to be doing it now is terrific.

Sandy Brown of Winfield arrived to be first in line at 4:45 p.m. (Photo by Karie Angell Luc/for Chronicle Media)

“I just want to thank everybody and every time we come to Elgin, we have a great time and I always get a great reception.”

A fan who happened to be in the Spring Street entrance line before the event opened at 6 p.m. was asked to dream up a question for Svengoolie.

That fortunate fan was Brad McFeggan of Carpentersville, who was here with daughter Tori McFeggan, for Tori’s first time attending Nightmare on Chicago Street.

Brad McFeggan asked Svengoolie, “Where do you get all those rubber chickens from?”

To that, Svengoolie replied, the rubber chickens come from a company that offers mail order.

The Spring Street entrance shortly before the event opens at 6 p.m. (Photo by Karie Angell Luc/for Chronicle Media)

“Some of the stores that sell them have often said to me, ‘You’re the reason that we sell out of them,’ so I should have invested stock in the rubber chicken companies,” Svengoolie said with a laugh.

Elgin Police Chief Ana Lalley was among uniformed security personnel accompanying Svengoolie. But maybe there was a bit of fandom too.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” Lalley said about Svengoolie’s visit. “It’s awesome. Everyone here’s having a great time. We want to make sure that everyone has a safe event.”

Other stages offered entertainment, including disc jockeys making pulsating music.

The Zombie Defense Initiative had prepared a Halloween experience that people encountered with trepidation and glee.

Alician Martell (left) of Kenosha, Wisconsin, grew up in Elgin. (Photo by Karie Angell Luc/for Chronicle Media)

With illuminated apocalyptic drinks and frightful food truck fare, the immersive environment provided an experience in the event’s 11th year.

When folks entered gates before sundown, zombies outside of fencing growled, but attendees thankfully were in the Safe Zone.

Businesses in the historic district were boarded up, vegetation reclaimed buildings, litter and spider webs were rampant while fake toxic waste horrifically trashed up scenes.

Abandoned cars, an Elgin U-46 yellow school bus and a crashed airplane were spectacles. Visitors could gently make art and add to colorful graffiti walls.

(Photo by Karie Angell Luc/for Chronicle Media)

Sandy Brown of Winfield was first in line at 4:45 p.m. at a Spring Street gate past Highland Avenue. On the front of Brown’s mobility chair was a Pee-wee Herman doll. The late actor Paul Reubens played Pee-wee.

“I thought, you know, the poor guy, he did a lot for all of us in happiness and I thought he’d love Halloween, and this is Halloween,” Brown said about Reubens in memory and tribute.

Also waiting in line on Spring Street was Alician Martell of Kenosha, Wisconsin who grew up in Elgin.

Martell was here, “for a good experience. It’s nice to be able to come back to something like this where the community comes together, everybody makes a little bit of revenue and has a good time.”

Martell’s parents still reside in Elgin.

“It’ll always be home for me,” said Martell.