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Monday, September 27, 2010

A Midwest Zombie Invasion

Kala Hewitt
My zombie love started several years back when an ex-boyfriend had me sit down and watch all of Romero’s movies in one weekend. I remember watching in complete awe; the stories, the characters, the special effects and make up work left me craving for more. Hence - the start of my obsession. So, I Googled anything dealing with zombies. Were there events? Gatherings of other zombie-obsessed fans? And there were. Enter: Zombie Walks.
What are zombie walks? I went to Wiki for this part, just because I have my own definition. The basic Wiki definition is: an organized social gathering of people dressed as zombies, usually walking around a public center to a large space (in some cases to a pub or bar; I.E. Zombie pub crawl). So how did it start? The earliest zombie walk on record was held on August 19 2001 in Sacramento, California - then called “The Zombie Parade”. From there, zombie walks started happening in Canada. The event would bring several hundred fans and spectators every year. Minneapolis, Minnesota is believed to have had the first zombie pub crawl starting off with 100-150 participants moving from bar to bar. From there, more cities caught on to the idea and started putting on their own. In Philadelphia, they hold several a year (Easter weekend in honor of the “most famous zombie”, a zombie prom in September and a zombie beach party in June). And which is probably one of my favorites? The one held at the Monroeville Mall in Pittsburgh, PA. It started on October 29, 2006 with 894 participants. What’s so special about that particular one? The Monroeville Mall is setting for Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Not only did the event set a world record, it was also a charity event for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Since then, the event has grown to an actual convention, know as the Zombie Fest (now Horror Realm). The event is also home to the World Zombie Day event, a fundraiser for world hunger charities.

So, how do you think I felt when my hometown decides to host an event like this? AMAZED. I’ll admit, I was a bit concerned at first, unsure of how it would go. Would it survive the Midwest’s “core family values and belief” anvils? I had to meet the mastermind behind this. I contacted the “Zombie Head Mistress” herself via Facebook and got some answers. Well, of course after setting up a little meeting of course. Her name was Marie, and I was too damn excited to meet her.

First things first: Where did it all begin for her?

A.) Dawn of the Dead. She saw it in the theaters and the thoughts began rolling in. Would she fight against the undead horde? Would she survive long enough to enjoy what would be left of human civilization? Instantly she went into zombie-apocalypse-survival mode and never looked back.
She credits her partner, Liz in all the zombie walk madness with the true love of the horror genre. “She even has a zombie pin-up for a tattoo.” Liz, you officially rock my socks.
Now, where did the idea of putting a zombie walk here come from?

A.) The Sioux Falls Zombie walk last year. Marie thought to herself, “why not?” Sure at first, it was a simple flash mob idea. Then it grew to be much more. The unexpected hard work of Marie and Liz started late July of this year. Permits and insurance were needed in order to get the ball rolling on the event. With those in hand it became more official.

The First Annual Siouxland Zombie Walk Facebook group gained 100+ “likes” within the first 48 hours. Today, it’s at 574. That’s pretty good for a “word of mouth” event. I asked Marie how she felt about the group and it’s growing members. “It’s amazing. It’s quite a surprise for us considering we had no idea how the event would be taken considering our hometown and it’s usual events.” Sure there’s a haunted house that has some cred for being what it is, but a zombie walk…? Marie admits she has some fears about the event. What if too many show? What if not many show at all? It’s something that’s completely up in the air and the unexpected can happen at any moment. But the event certainly has the “cool factor” and many zombie fans alike or unalike are talking about it.
So how are they really getting the word out besides the Facebook page? The growing support the event is getting certainly helps. can take the honor of being the first to interview Marie and get the scoop of the zombie-awesome-ness. The team distributed fliers around town and kept talking - telling everyone they could about the upcoming event. The event has no sponsors and is non-profit, proving to be a pretty well put together event (charities are a favorite here). Marie simply stated, “The local nonprofit agencies need help. And Siouxland Paw Prints Rescue is the one we’ve chosen to donate to. Just $100 dollars would help enough to spay four cats.” (SPPR is a no-kill shelter)

So what are they details? What’s the grand plan? October 9th, 2010 Sioux City will have its first zombie walk EVER. At 5 pm the horde can start to assemble at a local bar known as The Chesterfield to register and get their make up put together (if needed - Marie would like to point out they would like participants to at least attempt to do their own). Shortly after, rules and route will be discussed with the horde before releasing them at 6:30PM. Around 7:45PM, the Riviera Movie Theater will show the original Night of the Living Dead for $1. After the movie, party like a zombie rock star back at The Chesterfield with Small Change, Absolute Pestilence, and IRON MEDLEY. Iron Medley is doing a one time show after a 6 year absence from the music scene.

Of course, for any event, please be safe! Marie would like to say she’s very grateful for all the support and help from everyone - including one group in particular; Back Alley Booking. “They have been completely amazing. They have helped with setting up the music, arranging the fliers and promotion… With out them, it would have been really difficult.” She of course thanks us for covering the event on our side and invites everyone to come down. (Be responsible! No nudity!)

Oh - want to be a ‘victim’? Register and get a giant ‘X’ on your back and you’ll get mobbed for sure by the horde. Have some fun and get your zombie on!

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