Believe it or not,
even small places like Richmond, VA are capable of being host to
some extremely entertaining events. And as conservative as this town
may be, there's still an undercurrent of artistic people looking to
make every day a little less drab. Many of those very people rose to
the occasion this past Saturday, October the 15th. Rose right from
out of the graveyard that is.
That's right, this
Saturday marked the first Zombie Walk in Richmond history...
something that many are hoping will become an annual event. There
have been other zombie walks in the past, seeming to have originated
in Canada. It's only natural that something with so much potential
for fun would spread to other areas.
Back in August I
decided to take it upon myself to organize a Zombie Walk for
Richmond. Soon after, I registered the domain
and setup a simple message board where we could start to get
organized. My pal PoX (the guy who does the art in the PickleMan
comics) was even nice enough to design us a nifty logo.
So word started to
spread around on places like Livejournal, Myspace, and even in
classrooms. Yes, my friend who is a teacher actually printed out
flyers and gave them to his students. How's THAT for an extra
credit assignment! Soon enough it seemed like everybody in Richmond
knew about the Zombie Walk and wanted in. Everybody voted on a date
and a location to hold the zombie walk - Saturday October 15th at
Short Pump Mall. It's an outdoor mall with plenty of walking room
for brain-craving zombies, so the setting was perfect.
Next thing on my to-do
list was to start taking names of anybody who was interested in
participating as a zombie. It's one thing to get people saying
they'll show up for a zombie walk well over a month before it takes
place; it's another thing entirely to get them to remember it and
actually show up. With everybody's names, phone numbers and email
addresses, I would simply contact anybody who signed up to be a
participant during the last week before the walk actually took
I don't think I've
ever made that many phone calls in my life. In fact, I don't want to
ever touch a phone again.
Still, when I was done
contacting everybody, it appeared as though we would easily surpass
the 50 zombies I had originally hoped for. In fact, it looked like
we might have 100+ zombies if everyone pulled through. After all,
some of the people who signed up boasted that they would be bringing
10 or more friends with them. Heh, yeah I was skeptical too, but it
seemed like every single person was at least bringing 2 or 3 people
with them so the turnout was destined to be good.
So the day before the
Zombie Walk rolled around and it was absurdly chaotic. It seemed
like everybody and their grandma either decided to signup at the
last minute or cancel. Hell, we even had people signing up for the
walk or canceling less than 30 minutes before we left for it the
very next day! The most disappointing cancellation came in the form
of the people from Scream Forrest - a local annual Halloween
attraction. One of them wrote me saying that all of them were going
to be attending the zombie walk in full costume. Unfortunately,
something came up at the last minute and they couldn't make it.
Something came up? Nothing is more important than zombies damnit...
NOTHING! Oh well, maybe they can come next year.
So early Saturday
morning my friends and I had a little blood party at my place. We
spent the morning getting zombified thanks to some effects makeup
and a lot of fake blood. Don't waste your money on those $5.00
bottles of blood; a little food coloring and a lot o' Karo syrup
will get you more for your money and it'll look far more realistic.
A few days earlier
when I was making my clothes look shredded I had the idea of
attacking them with a cheese grater. Don't ask me why, but it just
popped into my head when I was thinking of ways to make the clothes
look worn, yet not obviously shredded on purpose by a pair of
scissors or something. Man oh man did that cheese grater ever work
So after all of us
were looking nice 'n dead, it was off to the "secret" zombie walk
meet-up spot. I chose a public park since I knew there wouldn't be
any complaints about us meeting up there or anything.
Let me tell you, all
the work that went into this, all the time trying to get it
organized... it was all worth it the second we pulled into that
parking lot at the park and saw a horde of zombies just waiting for
us to arrive. It was at that moment that I knew everything was gonna
be a blast. Everybody looked fantastic. I wish you could've seen the
smile on my face as I pulled into that parking lot... it was one of
those rare moments where you feel both proud and extremely excited
for what's still to come.
More and more zombies
started showing up. A lot more. Some of them had some amazing
costumes and some were still making their costumes right there at
the park, applying dirt to their clothes and faces. One guy,
Fight/Stunt Coordinator Phil Yeager, was even
nice enough to bring a ton of extra homemade blood for those zombies
who needed some touchups. Along with him came some friends who were
going to document the whole thing for me so we could eventually put
a nice video documentary together of the whole event. And then
somebody else showed up.
I think I saw every
zombie's heart stop at that very moment. Ok, well maybe not their
hearts, but whatever it is that zombies have inside them that keeps
'em moving somehow... that's what stopped. We all thought the Zombie
Walk had stopped before it had the chance to even begin. The cop
pulled up and asked what was going on and we explained that we were
simply having a Halloween party of sorts. He was totally cool with
it and simply said he just wanted to see what everybody was all
dressed up for. We all breathed a sigh of relief.
More zombies poured
into the parking lot as it grew closer and closer to 1pm, our
scheduled departure time. And then another cop showed up. What now?
unfortunately came to deliver some news that we didn't want to hear.
He knew all about the Zombie Walk and informed me that if we showed
up at Short Pump mall, we would be banned from it. Now honestly, I
don't think anybody at that walk (myself included) could give a damn
about being banned from one of the many overpriced shopping malls in
the area. However, he also informed us that security at the mall had
made preparations for our arrival. I'm not sure what that really
meant, but he went on to tell me we would all be arrested if we
showed up at the mall. What, even the kids who were with us who were
looking forward to a fun day of celebrating Halloween in good zombie
I don't know who told
the cops about us meeting at the park, and I don't hold it against
the cops at all. They were actually totally cool to us and just
doing their job. I do have a problem with whatever uptight prick(s)
at Short Pump mall couldn't see this as a simple celebration of
Halloween. We weren't showing up there to destroy merchandise. We
weren't showing up there to cause a panic. We were simply showing up
to celebrate a holiday we all love and to give some people some good
laughs. So a hearty "fuck you" to whoever saw fit to take those kind
of measures for such a harmless event.
Fortunately, I had
heard rumors a few weeks in advance that Short Pump was planning on
stopping us. So I made some alternate plans of my own. After the
cops left, I announced the news to the group and while they were
disappointed at first, they got pretty excited about the
alternatives. First there was Stony Point mall, another outdoor mall
and hey... the cops didn't say anything about us not going to that
one! The other alternative was Carytown, one of the most popular
places in Richmond and home to many shops, places to eat, and the
historic Byrd Theatre.
The choice was in
their hands and they voted overwhelming for Carytown. And so the
plan was set, the 80+ zombies would soon invade Carytown and infect
all of the inhabitants within!
We rode into Carytown
and drove into the parking lot of a Kroger grocery store, waiving a
pirate flag out of our car window to flag down all the zombies. We
waited about 10 minutes for more zombies to show up and while we
did, some zombies ran inside Kroger to take a leak (hey, they may be
dead, but those bodies still have plenty o' fluids running through 'em).
And then it was time... we all changed are walking patterns from
completely normal to dragging feet and stiff limbs as we headed down
Instantly we were
greeted with laughter and disgust... quite a combination. I have to
say, for the most part, the people in Carytown were extremely cool
about it and really appreciated our horde o' zombies filling their
streets with undead entertainment. There were some snobs and
hipsters, however, who tried to act like they were too mature for it
all. Some would actually try to pretend that they didn't even
notice. Like hordes of zombies walk down Cary street every single
day. It was both funny and sad to see people like that. But again,
they were a very, very small portion of the crowd.
Most people would
simply laugh outloud or run away screaming. Some would actually dart
into stores just to avoid the zombie mob! So you see that? We were
literally driving customers into the stores and I'm sure the
storeowners appreciated it! See what you fuckers at Short Pump Mall
missed out on? The Zombie Walk stops people from window shopping and
gets them in your doors!
We walked by some
people trying to find homes for dogs, and the dogs were absolutely
flipping out. Gotta give credit to those people though, even though
they were laughing and/or disgusted by the zombies, they still asked
every single one of the zombies for donations. I would've given them
money, but my hands were caked in blood and I wasn't about to go
dive into my wallet for a few bucks. I offered them the brain I was
carrying and they declined. I'm sure one of those dogs would've
loved a brain chew toy. Oh well, their loss.
Once we made it all
the way down to the Byrd Theatre, we crossed the street and started
to walk all the way back up the other side of Cary Street. I heard
someone remark that they wished they could have all of the zombies
come into the Byrd Theatre and get up on stage with them later in
the day. Sorry pal, we zombies were going places and didn't have
time to wait around.
We continued moving up
Cary street, moaning and shouting about "Braiiiiiiiiiiins" as
pedestrians and drivers continued to slow down and look at our group
with astonishment. We finally made it back up to the Kroger parking
lot and our Carytown invasion had come to an end. However, we
weren't done just yet.
While more zombies ran
inside the grocery store and CVS to get some refreshments, we
started discussing where to go next. One zombie suggested that we
all head down to Grace Street where they were currently holding a
big festival. It was also right near Virginia Commonwealth
University (VCU). We all took a vote on it and everybody seemed to
agree that was the place to go. More than half of our zombies had to
go due to other engagements or having extremely tired kids which was
totally understandable. Walking around in hot weather like that
while being caked in zombie makeup is a taxing activity. So again a
big thanks to those zombies who stayed for the whole Carytown
And so roughly 30
zombies remained as we made our way to Grace street to meet up in
front of The Village - a popular diner / bar that always has some
interesting characters hanging out inside. I missed it, but one of
them supposed started shouting at all the zombies about how we were
basically being disrespectful to Taylor Behl - a girl in Richmond
who was recently murdered. Correct me if I'm wrong, but she was
killed by some sick asshole, not by a horde of zombies... so I see
how a Zombie Walk could relate to her tragic story in any possible
way. But hey, this was coming from a guy who was hanging out at a
bar early in the afternoon. A true philosopher.
After a few of us
zombies scared the bejesus out of some very dramatic 7-Eleven
clerks, it was off to the Grace Street festival. The cops there were
totally cool with us being there and seemed to be amused about how
the zombies wouldn't cross the street until the electronic sign said
it was ok to go.
New Zombie Rule:
Zombies never jaywalk.
We then tore through
the festival looking at all the trinkets that were for sale,
growling at the shoppers, clutching our ears in agonizing unison as
the band played blind melon while we screamed about how it hurt our
braiiiiins. I also had the pleasure of scaring a clown. Normally
it'd be the other way around since clowns seem to scare a lot of
people, but I walked right up to him and growled as he was in the
middle of creating a balloon animal and he immediately stopped what
he was doing and just handed me the balloon and said, "Here! Just
take it!" And I did take the balloon in my mouth and tried not to
laugh as it stuck to the blood that was caked on my cheek. Good
There was also a
snow-cone stand and they looked like they were really enjoying the
whole zombie invasion. I walked right up to the lady as she shouted
"Bless you! Praise Jesus!" and she then made me a snow-cone for
free. I have to say, after shouting all afternoon about brains, that
was the best goddamned snow-cone I've ever had.
We then decided to
head on over to VCU's campus since it was an open house day and we
would surely see some student prospects taking a tour of the
college. What better way to introduce them to their potential future
home for the next 4-5 years than with a horde of zombies, right?
We chased some around,
moaned into their cellphones as they helplessly tried to explain to
the people on the line what was happened before their very eyes, and
continued to chant about brains. And then we saw it... the library.
The big VCU libary.
For what was surely
the most surreal experience of the entire day, we zombies actually
went into the library. What had once been a moaning, growling, and
screaming horde of zombies was now a dead silent crowd of undead
New Zombie Rule:
Zombies remain hushed in libraries.
We walked on by all
the braniacs in the library and they looked absolutely 100%
bewildered. How does one react, when they've had their face buried
in a Chemistry book all day, to a horde of zombies quietly walking
by you in the library as they whisper things like "braiiiins" and "shhhh"
? They just stared at us like they were caught in headlights
and it was absolutely hilarious. Then after we made our way through
the entire library, we exited the front doors and instantly started
yelling about brains again. CLASSIC.
The Zombie Walk
continued around the VCU campus and even past a chapel where a
wedding was taking place. Amusingly enough, the wedding photographer
decided to take a few snapshots of us as we walked on by. My pal
Josh joked about how that'd be an interesting surprise for the bride
and groom when they opened up their wedding photo album. Indeed!
Eventually, we ended
up back at the Grace Street festival and some of the zombies
actually started dancing to the funk music that the band was
playing. Personally, it still hurt my braiiiins.
So we met up and took
a few group photos and I thanked everybody for coming out to the
first-ever Richmond Zombie Walk. These remaining zombies were real
troopers and we had walked a long way that day in full zombie
costumes 'n makeup. Those zombies should be proud of what they did
and I can't thank them enough for showing up for the fun.
All in all, it was a
unique experience that I will never forget for as long as I live. A
lot of people said it was the most fun they've had in a long time
and I couldn't agree more. I'm glad I had the opportunity to
organize this thing, because we brought a lot of laughs and scares
to people this October and frankly... that's what Halloween is all
about. Here's to hoping we can make it happen again next year!
On a final note, I've
been collecting photos from various people who attended the zombie
walk and have started a large online gallery. It's a work in
progress so keep checking back for the latest photo additions:
The Official Zombie
Walk Photo Gallery:
Also, we brought along
a bunch o' people with video cameras, so as soon as we have all of
that footage collected, we're going to combine it into a nice little
documentary about the Zombie Walk and hopefully have a post Zombie
Walk party here in Richmond for everyone to come watch it.
To all you zombies out
there, thanks for the memories...