Dead music icons to be the stars at Elgin's Nightmare event
Prince's death in April was mourned by fans across the country, but in Elgin, it also sparked an idea -- make him and other dead music icons come to life in one grand event.
"Dead stages" is the theme of Nightmare on Chicago Street, the annual zombiefest Oct. 22 in downtown Elgin and featuring three stages of tribute bands covering Prince, Michael Jackson, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Stone Temple Pilots, and possibly David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix.
Barb Keselica, the city's special events and community engagement manager, said she expects that will attract music enthusiasts. Last year's event attracted nearly 14,000 people.
"I say it's like going to Great America. You want the same ride, but you also want something fresh to go on," she said. "By concentrating on entertainment, it gives more variety to people who maybe are not into zombies or Halloween but still may want to come."
Elgin Public House owner Greg Shannon said he loves this year's "dead people" theme. "When Barb told me what it was going to be, I said, 'That's great. It's fantastic.'"
The restaurant is commissioning a special beer to be brewed by Exit Strategy Brewing of Forest Park and will be holding a contest to name the new beer, Shannon said. There will be one more beer tent, bringing the total to four, all run by Elgin Public House.
"I'm hoping to pull 16,000 or 18,000 (people) this year," he said. "I'm excited about it, but I'm also a little worried about it. It's a lot of people to maintain, or take care of. Plus the restaurant is always crazy, so I can't pull people from there."
The confirmed bands are Who's Bad, which will bring to life Michael Jackson and Prince, Kashmir, which does a Led Zeppelin show, plus Smells Like Nirvana, Stone Trippin Pilots and The Doors of Chicago.
The props for the six-block extravaganza will be reminiscent of the movie "Mad Max," along with circus and human-to-alien transformation themes, Keselica said. "There will be definitely new things for people to come see."
Volunteers have been building the props since May and the effort is ramping up now, Keselica said. Anyone interested in helping can go to nightmareonchicagostreet.com/contact and send a message to the organizers.
Shannon said he, too, needs volunteers to pour beer and check IDs. Volunteers must have a state Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training certification. The training can be taken online. Anyone interested in volunteering for the Elgin Public House can contact Steve at (847) 468-8810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year's event cost the city $13,340, after about $178,200 in revenues and $191,500 in expenses. Keselica said she hopes the event will break even this year after the city increased vendor fees and implemented a new in-house, web-based ticketing system that will avoid convenience fee costs.
The new ticketing system will allow the city to track cash ticket sales at the entrance. In past years, city staff members were entrusted with delivering all cash at the end of the night without a proper tracking system.
Tickets go on sale this week at nightmareonchicagostreet.com.