Want to know what a crowd of almost 900 people dressed as zombies looks like? It looks something like this.
Yes, I do think a zombie march is a fun family activity. There’s makeup and costumes. There’s marching. There’s acting. There’s making crowds of people laugh at the absurdity of it all. I’ll clarify that my kids have never actually seen a true zombie movie, nor are they likely to see one anytime soon. That’s really not what this is about. It’s pure camp and pure fun. This year, my husband organized the Lawrence, Kansas event and transformed it from a flash mob into a charity fundraiser.
There are all sorts of zombie walks across the country. Some are charity fundraisers, like the fantastic Iowa City event, and some are just loosely organized gatherings for the fun of it. If you don’t have an event near you, you can always start one up.
Our 2011 zombie attire tended to be on the practical side. My daughter wore a ghostly pirate T-shirt clearly derived from a certain Caribbean themed movie series. My son and I wore an official event T-shirt. Last year we had a zombie princess and a skeleton boy, but this year we just didn’t have the time to make more costumes. Casual dress codes don’t mean you can’t be creepy.
There were plenty of elaborate costumes. Some kids went all out with fake blood and even foam organs dangling from their mouths. There was a zombie Santa offering to let zombie children pose with him (my kids declined.) A piece of advice for would-be-zombies: Go for exaggerated makeup, because the bulk of the march takes place at night, and subtle just won’t show up.
I took an early day from work to help get everyone ready. How often does your husband ask you to come home from work early to help him with his hair? He had the most elaborate costume of the bunch of us and went with a classic not-quite-zombie you might recognize.
The sheet in his hand is full of stickers. He managed a “body count” for the walk by handing everyone a sticker and then counting how many he’d distributed. He also organized event insurance, found sponsors, printed T-shirts, and walked around with paper towels and cleaning solution to wipe fake blood off of any store windows. Phew! He managed to double last year’s attendance and raise $1000 in cash and wish-list items for the Lawrence Humane Society. He’s already in talks with the city library to coordinate their reading list for next year. How fun is that?
How does it work? Each zombie march is going to have their own rules, so check to see what’s available locally. Our walk in Lawrence starts gathering in the evening around 6:30, so it’s still light outside, and everyone can admire the costumes during the daylight. In spite of the gore, ours is a very family friendly event and has lots of children.
This year we had a PA system and an MC. He warmed up the crowd with fake eyeballs and let them know the rules. Oh yes, there are rules. Zombies obey traffic signals, because we don’t like to see anyone become zombies for real. Zombies refrain from banging on glass, because it’s scary for real when the glass breaks, and then the store owner makes you pay for it.
The march started at 7:00 pm when it’s dark. Everyone walks up one side of downtown and then down the other. That’s it. You might think that’s very dull, but you should see the crowd of spectators laughing and enjoying the whole thing. There’s also the camaraderie you experience with your fellow zombies as you shuffle up and down the street moaning about brains, and the high-fives for particularly gory or funny outfits. If it’s not on your bucket list, it should be.
Once we’d shuffled and moaned our way around town, we settled in for some “brain food” at a local downtown restaurant. We weren’t the only zombies craving pizza that night. After that it was bath time, and I tucked my tuckered little zombies into bed.