Ticket sales for Nightmare on Chicago Street are up 100% from 2019, the last year the Elgin Halloween event took place, organizers say.
A maximum of 15,000 tickets will be sold, with a presale price of $35 and a daily price of $40.
“I strongly encourage you to get your tickets now,” said Kate O’Leary, Elgin’s special events coordinator, noting that there is always a surge in sales as the event approaches.
Nightmare replicates a zombie apocalypse with actors portraying reanimated corpses, live performances, huge spooky displays, music, food and other attractions. It will be held on Chicago Street in downtown Elgin and is scheduled for Saturday, October 22 from 6pm to 11pm.
Some of the interest this year could be due to Nightmare being canceled for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and nearly canceled this year due to a surge in costs and a lack of supplies, manpower and volunteers. Public demand prompted Elgin City Council to reverse its cancellation decision.
Planning is on track, O’Leary said, and highlights of this year’s festival will include a return from Svengoolie, who will be hosting a horror TV show on Saturday nights on METV.
There will also be three entertainment stages, one of which will be used by DJs including Bad Boy Bill, Brotinez, Don Parra, Tequila Papi, Aust10, Joey Get Down, DJ Static, DJ Instant Cash, Jay Scott and MC Simon Be.
Live acts include Chicago Loud 9, Too Hype Crew, Hi Infidelity and Kashmir, a Led Zeppelin tribute band. O’Leary said there will be additional performances at B Movie Boulevard, The Thunderdome, Nightmare Alley, Decades of Doom Tribute Stage and other venues set up as part of the event.
City and Elgin Police Department officials have been working on a security plan. Ticket holders are screened at each of the four entrances, and a new policy bans bringing in larger bags like backpacks and duffel bags, O’Leary said.
“We went through this tragedy on July 4th (at Highland Park) and as mayors and police chiefs we had to take a step back,” Elgin Mayor David Kaptain said on his radio show WRMN (1410-AM) this week. “Captain’s Corner.”
“We want to make sure people are safe, so this year we have taken extra precautions. I think it’s just part of our new way of life. It’s unfortunate, but it’s what we have to do.”
Police Chief Ana Lalley could not reveal specific plans, but talks about the security plan are ongoing, she said.
“This is a big event for the city. All hands will be on deck and the command staff will be there,” she said.
Nightmare is one of Lalley’s favorite events and this year she starred in a Fright Festival commercial.
“The online response to the commercial has been great and people are thrilled to see the resemblance to ‘The Walking Dead,'” said O’Leary.
In the ad, which can be seen on YouTube, Lalley rides a horse while surrounded by zombies. It was filmed a few months ago and Lalley had to learn how to handle the horse.
“I love the whole event. I’m a big ‘Walking Dead’ fan,” the police chief said. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience (being in the commercial). … Sometimes I have the opportunity to do something nice in my job.”
Gloria Casas is a freelance reporter for The Courier-News.