WALKING WITH ZOMBIES
Published Halloween Season 2006:
On Friday the 13th, I attended my first zombie walk. If you’re not familiar with this growingly popular activity, it’s basically a case of life imitating art. Or life imitating death, if you prefer. A group of people get together, apply some ghastly greasepaint and ragged, often bloody zombie attire, then shamble through a populated area to a designated destination, often a cemetery or movie theatre.
The general idea is to stay in character, offering the vacant stare and clumsy shuffle that is so endearing to us lovers of the dead. Those who choose to offer themselves up as victims for the ravenous hordes usually indicate their status as would-be zombie chow by flashing a ‘V’ for victim sign, better known as a peace sign. They can then expect to be attacked and presumably dismembered. Designated victims are known to bring along some prosthetic body parts or entrails to add to the effect.
The reasons for participation are numerous. Some insist they are making a statement about how information overload is desensitizing us. Others do it as tribute to the movies of Romero, Fulci and company. It fills my twisted, black heart with pride as a member of the horror community that many of these shamble-fests double as food drives or fundraisers. Plus, it’s another excuse to dress up and have a good time. You have to see the mystified stares of innocent bystanders to appreciate the surreal nature of the event.
To add a little flavor, I brought along a brain made of jello, struck from one of those overpriced molds you can get at Halloween shops. I offered it up on the last leg of the walk, and was pleased to see it quickly devoured by the hungry hordes. However, a friendly ghoul informed me that participants are instructed not to accept anything from strangers, which, unfortunately makes good sense. Perhaps would-be servers of brains and body parts should contact the organizers of the events beforehand. Too bad this sort of kills the spontaneity, but better safe than sorry I suppose.
Organized by actor Dan Burello, this was the inaugural zombie walk for my city. Over two hundred walking dead are estimated to have participated, with some coming from several hundred miles. Some larger cities are said to have had in the neighborhood of seven hundred of the life-impaired turn out. One can imagine a future in which annual zombie walks rival the traditional Christmas parade, with macabre pageantry and coffin-shaped floats.
Be sure and support the dead when they come to your city.