OLD TOWN — Chicago's own "Ghostbusters" mourned the death of fictional Ghostbuster Harold Ramis on Monday.
Members of the fan group Windy City Ghostbusters gathered Monday night at Old Town Ale House to raise a toast to Ramis. The Ale House is a popular hangout for actors at The Second City, where Ramis began his career.
The writer, actor and director, who played the role of Ghostbuster Egon Spengler in the "Ghostbusters" movies, died Monday at age 69.
The Windy City Ghostbusters is a group of 15 mostly city residents who dress in costumes from the 1984 hit film and its 1989 not-so-hit sequel, plus perform at events and children's parties.
"We were all kind of hoping there would be a third movie, and losing him certainly puts a kink in your proton stream," said the group's co-founder Chris O. Biddle, of Edgewater and the owner of Uptown Underground. He said he was truly in mourning over the death of the well-known comedic actor and director.
"Raising a toast is our way of honoring him, so that's what we're doing," Biddle added.
Biddle, 40, said he's been a fan of the film "Ghostbusters" since he watched it for the first time as a 10-year-old. He shares his passion for the movie with his girlfriend and group member, Elizabeth Braun, who sometimes dresses up as Sigourney Weaver's character, Dana Barrett.
"Ghostbusters was a big part of my childhood, and Egon was always one of my favorite characters," said Braun, of Edgewater. "I never got to meet Harold Ramis, but it's a little bit like losing an old friend."
Being a "real" Ghostbuster isn't exactly cheap. Proton packs, which include lighting and sound-effect devices, can cost several thousand dollars, Biddle said.
Biddle said Windy City Ghostbusters will appear at events after charitable donations are made to either of their two Chicago-based partners, La Rabida Children's Hospital in Woodlawn or the Tree House Humane Society in Uptown. The organization will even send its Chicago Ectomobile, a version of the "Ghostbusters" old-school ambulance from the film.
He said a larger group of about 50 Ghostbusters from the Midwest is participating in the upcoming St. Patrick's Day Parade Downtown.
Like Braun, Biddle never met Ramis because he said Ramis rarely, if ever, appeared at Ghostbusters events.
Still, "We're having a sad day today," Biddle said. "It's bad to lose him."