Elgin's annual 'Nightmare on Chicago Street' a hit
If you wanted to visit downtown Elgin on Saturday night, you first had to go through white containment tents and be scanned by people clad in full-body biohazard suits — to make sure you hadn't been "infected."
Of course, you also had to sport a red stamp on your hand proving you had paid the entry fee to "Nightmare on Chicago Street," Elgin's annual Halloween party.
The zombie apocalypse-themed event featured live musical entertainment, food vendors, beer and liquor booths, and was attended by crowds covered in all manner of blood and gore, along with dozens of volunteer zombies wandering around in a daze.
Cory Graff of South Elgin chose the classic Jason Voorhees look of "Friday the 13th" movie fame.
"I love dressing up, and I think this is so cool," said Graff, who came with a group of friends.
Patricio Gomez De La Torre of Crystal Lake donned a Captain Hook costume with a plastic Paulie parrot perched on his shoulder, while his brother Xavier Gomez De La Torre, of West Dundee, went with a more generic "scary guy" look.
"We grew up in Elgin, and we were just talking about how much we're enjoying this," Patricio Gomez De La Torre said while sipping a "zombie-Tini" cocktail. "We're having a great time."
Others, like Alex Bovey of South Elgin, opted for a sober costume. His co-workers teasingly call him Jesus because of his long hair and beard, Bovey said, so he figured he'd go with it and wear a long white tunic and a crown of thorns.
"I didn't wear Roman sandals, though," he said, looking down at his Sketchers. "It was too cold for that."
Seventeen-year-old Harrison McClure of Elgin was understated in his dark blue suit, turquoise shirt and black bow time. When asked what his costume was, he pulled a pair of white sunglasses from his pocket and busted out a "Gangnam Style" dance.
McClure attended with his buddies Chris Goral, 18, of Elgin, and Bradley Jackson, 19, also of Elgin and a student at Western Illinois University.
"This is a fantastic festival," Goral said. "There is a lot to do and have fun with, and I like it that it brings money for the city."
The Van V family of Huntley didn't wear costumes but were nonetheless excited to partake in the fun. Sin Van V and her husband, Fay, came by themselves last year, and had so much fun that they decided they couldn't let their kids miss it this time.
"It's so awesome, we had to bring them," Sin Van V said of her kids Tyler, 13, and Trisha, 15. "It's like you're in a movie. It is that good."
Thousands of people attended last year's debut event, and even more were expected to attend this year, said Elgin City Manager Sean Stegall, who helped sell tickets at the entry booth.
"This was put together by a group of incredibly creative people," he said. "This year, it's more zombies, more fun, and more people."
Saturday's event included the inaugural Miss Zombie Pageant, and it was expected to feature a zombie flash dancing mob to the tune of Michael Jackson's "Thriller," volunteer Jennifer Phillips said.
She and her husband, Curt, of Elgin, along with other volunteers, walked around holding signs that said "Zomcupy Chicago Street" and "Zombie Rights now."
"Everyone seems to love it," she said.
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