Head’s up, RVA: on October 24th, a hoard of groaning, shuffling undead will converge on Carytown in search of tasty brains and mayhem. Uhhnnnnnn, gurgle, gurgle, glurrrrrg…
Head’s up, RVA: on October 24th, a hoard of groaning, shuffling undead will converge on Carytown in search of tasty brains and mayhem.
If you’ve never encountered the Zombie Walk, you’re missing one of Richmond’s best home-grown Halloween events: hundreds of people dressed up in their scariest, funniest, and most ironic undead costumes, dragging their rotting limbs past fancy shops and restaurants to the delight of shoppers and onlookers.
There are Zombie Girl Scouts, Zombie Housewives, Zombie Policemen, even Zombie Pets toddling along at the end of blood-stained leashes. Last year, Zombie Sarah Palin lurched by, still smiling, while Jesus glided along peacefully a few minutes later. They didn’t seem to be together.
Organizers Anthony Menez and Josh Bishop, who took over the event in 2006, have seen the undead legions grow from 80-90 the first year to close to 200 at recent walks. In 2007, they began using the Zombie Walk as a way to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
“The majority of our participants are poor college kids looking to do something fun for free or on the cheap,” says Menez. “We never expected to raise much, but since we started collecting for the American Cancer Society we’ve managed to collect close to $600.”
Menez decided to collect donations when his father-in-law, Edgar Smith, was diagnosed with mesothelioma. The yearly donation is made in his memory.
Now in its 5th year, the Richmond Zombie Walk has graduated from upstart flash-mob to an organized tradition complete with workshops and a worthy charitable cause. But it wasn’t always so easy to be a zombie in Richmond.
“When the word got around town that we were going to mob Short Pump Towne Center before the first event in 2005, the mall’s security freaked and the local police showed up at our pre-walk meet up spot to threaten us with arrest if we showed up there,” Menez says.
The walk was moved to Carytown later that day, where it has continued every year since. “We’ve actually had a very positive reaction from the shops there. Since that first event, crowds gather in Carytown just to see the Zombie Walk. That means more foot traffic for the local businesses – it’s always felt like an unspoken partnership.”
And while some years the walk has continued down to VCU and other locations, this year it will stay in Carytown for logistical reasons. “We lose attendance with each new location, and there is some confusion with our out-of-town undead,” explains Menez. “Plus, it’s exhausting to lumber around just after a few blocks.”
With the recent release of Zombieland, it seems like pop culture may have reached a saturation point with the undead, but Menez isn’t worried. “I remember after every Halloween season since 2005 hearing people exclaim that ‘zombies are played out’. They hold on to that through the holidays, spring and into the summer. But when the autumn season rolls around they always want to be a part of the monster horde again. Monsters never die.”
For folks interested in joining, there’s still time to coordinate your best undead ensemble. Michael Jackson, Farah Fawcett, and Patrick Swayze are all likely to be popular zombies this year, which leaves plenty of room for creativity if you can think beyond the cover of People magazine.
Zombie Doug Wilder, anyone?
More information about the event can be found at richmondzombiewalk.com. Or try these:
(And be sure to tune in next week for our gory, gruesome photo coverage of Zombie Walk 2009.)