It's never too late to have a Halloween Party. On Saturday night, the night after the holiday, Chicago Street Theater held its 3rd Annual Halloween Hullabaloo: A Nightmare on Chicago Street which allowed for party goers to dress up in costume, meet local legend Svengoolie, and watch the last show of Chicago Street's production of Frankenstein.
The Halloween event is not only a party thrown by the theater every year due to the holiday, it's one of the main fundraisers put on the staff to keep CST thriving. The party got started three years ago to conjunct with their production of Dracula and it was such a big hit with the attendants that the theater decided to make it an annual occurrence. Each year they try to make it even better than the last, but this year was extra special to CST.
"It's our 60th anniversary season, so we wanted to make this night bigger and better than ever before," Eric Brant, the Director of Marketing for the Chicago Street Theater, explained. "Tonight is the first time that we've ever sold out for this event, so that's very cool to see. This is our last night for Frankenstein and Scary Godmother as well so we just kind of wanted to end those out in a great way."
The crowd of people who attended the Halloween Hullabaloo was all welcomed to food and a cash bar right when they walked through the doors. Monsters and ghouls mingled in the front lobby as they ate and drank some "creepy cocktail concoctions", but they also chatted up each other as they waited in line to meet Svengoolie.
Svengoolie - in case you're unaware - is a character played by Rich Koz who hosts a TV show by the same name. The show, which just celebrated its 35th anniversary, is a Chicago area staple that broadcasts horror and science fiction movies while Svengoolie makes jokes and performs sketches over the course of the broadcast. Over its 35 year long run Svengoolie has become a cult favorite for many people in the Chicagoland area, and groups of his fans made their way to CST in order to get an autograph from their favorite host.
The whole idea for Svengoolie to make a stop in Valparaiso was all due to one of his devoted fans - Tim Gleason. Gleason, a member of Chicago Street Theater for the past 24 years and also an actor and director for the theater, got the plans going when he decided that having 'Sven' make an appearance at their Halloween Hullabaloo was the perfect way to make the night memorable.
"I've been a fan of Svengoolie ever since he first came on air. I've been at appearances of his in the past and I knew that many people would love to come and meet him here. It's really worked out in conjunction with our show tonight, and the response has been fantastic," Gleason explained. "He's got a really great fan base and we're happy to have them here. It's been a childhood dream come true to have my idol here at the theater and that means an incredible amount to me."
It wasn't just people from the Valparaiso who came to see Svengoolie while he was in their area. Groups of people traveled from farther away towns so that they could get their rubber chickens signed - and some those people included the Klisiak family. The Klisiaks traveled all the way from Roselawn to attend the event. Leticia, Harry and Brent Klisiak are all fans of the show, and fans of theater, so as a result they thought that the Hullabaloo was the perfect way to spend a Saturday night out.
"We're always pushing for our son to be immersed into different things within the arts and then by knowing Svengoolie because we watch it all the time meant that we had to get out here," Leticia Klisiak stated. "It was so awesome to go up there and meet him tonight because we've been fans ever since it was the Screaming Yellow Theater. Plus, we get to be here all dressed up in costumes together! That's a definite plus."
The man himself was happy to make a stop in the region as well. Koz has had a big couple of weeks, and it wasn't because those weeks were inching closer to Halloween. Svengoolie has a new feature at the Broadcast Museum in Chicago, he broke the record for how many hours he spent wearing his makeup, and the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois officially declared October 31st Svengoolie Day. All of this excitement eventually tapered off at the Chicago Street Theater, but it was an event he was glad to end the week on simply due to the people who came out.
"I'm always amazed by the turnout for events like this. It's always so nice, and very flattering. People always thank me for what I do and it means so much to them - but it means even more to me. Tonight was a great night for that," Koz explained. "The people were very nice and complimentary. This was a perfect ending for our Halloween season. I'm very tired after every Halloween so this was nice and comfortable way to end the crazy couple of days I've had."
After the packed house got into their seats and everyone was settled Svengoolie helped Eric Brant announce the winners of the costume competition. Awards were given out to the scariest costume, the best original costume, the best couple, and the best overall costumes. Once the winners took their places back in the audience all of the attendees watched the special last production of the theater's Frankenstein.
Overall the theater couldn't be more grateful of all of the people who decided to make the event a hit.
"It's been really spectacular. Standing in a room packed full of people is a great thing to see, and we're happy to have each and every one of them here," Kelly Hite, Chicago Street's Director of Development explained. "There couldn't be a better way to start our season."