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Bears join Realm of Terror to show support for Lake Villa family

Chicago Bear Matt Spaeth (left) gets look approval from his fiance Becky Olasz. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

Chicago Bear Matt Spaeth (left) gets a look of approval from his fiance Becky Olasz. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 1, 2013 1:48AM

The Monsters of the Midway were transformed into the Monsters of Rollins Road Monday night as more than a half-dozen Chicago Bears were deployed into the dark, winding hallways of the Realm of Terror haunted house in Round Lake Beach.

Tight end Matt Spaeth organized a group of teammates into a temporary fright squad to serve as the star attractions at a fund-raiser for Chris Pettry, the 42-year-old Lake Villa man who was stabbed to death Oct. 7 while in Florida to watch the Bears play the Jacksonville Jaguars.

With his face made up to look like a harlequin who had a bad run-in with a flame thrower, Spaeth said he had performed at a Pittsburgh-area haunted house while playing for the Steelers and teamed with front-office personnel to turn that concept into a benefit for the Pettry family at Kristof’s Entertainment Center.

“We got in contact with the family and said, ‘We want to be sensitive to your family and what happened, but we want to do whatever we can to raise money for you,’” said Spaeth, adding that Pettry’s death left the entire team shocked by “something so tragic that happened so close to us.”

“To me, it was the fact that we were down there on the road and it happened to a Bears fan, a guy who was just trying to get away to watch us play,” Spaeth said. “I think sometimes we take for granted the fans and what they do and how they sacrifice sometimes just to watch us play football.”

Among the Bears joining Spaeth were Kyle Adams, Joe Anderson, Gabe Carimi, Gabe Miller, Cheta Ozougwu, Dane Sanzenbacher, Kellen Davis and eight-year veteran Robbie Gould, fresh off his game-wining field goal Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.

The players arrived about an hour before Realm of Terror’s 7 p.m. curtain time to be crafted into something less human. Makeup artist Jennifer Cook of Fox Lake, working with her daughter Heather Simmons, said both art and science are involved in creating a signature mix of zombie and burn victim.

“A blowtorch, a little gasoline,” she said with a laugh as she applied latex and prepared to touch it up with an airbrush. “I’m expecting (them) to jump, but it’s just air.”

Ozougwu, who was given a corpse-like pallor and a bloody smock, said the metamorphosis was painless.

“Mine took probably about 20 minutes,” said the second-year player, signed as a free agent this spring from the Houston Texans. “I’m going to be ... well, I haven’t really thought about it. Probably the crazy guy coming back from the dead or something.”

“I’m a zombie. This is rotting flesh,” said the 6-foot-4 Adams. “I’m going to be eating people’s necks. That’s the main plan.”

Realm of Terror manager Steve Kristof said Monday’s basic strategy, after getting the players into character, was to partner them with one of the haunted house’s stable of performers.

“It was actually really easy to set up. It was just a couple of days of planning, and everything’s gone off without a hitch,” Kristof said as finishing touches were put on the makeup. “They are going to be scaring people inside the haunted house as well as the people waiting outside. We’ll do a quick crash course, walk them through so they can see (the performance) in action, and then we’ll set them up around the house.”

A few minutes later, Kristof assembled the temps and the regulars in a staging area and gave the Bears some final advice.

“Do your best, do whatever you can, be nasty, be scary, yell loud — that’s how it works,” Kristof said. “It’s not hard, trust me.”

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