On Oct 22 thousands of zombies staggered along the sidewalks of Silver Spring, participating in the 4th annual Silver Spring Zombie Walk. What started out as a small community gathering has grown to a full-out horror fest with a variety of zombies, ranging from a bloody hippie chanting, ”peace, love, and brain” to zombie hunters, killing the undead with Nerf guns and swords.
“This is a time to just go all out and be crazy,” said Alex Carlton, a policeman zombie and Washington D.C. resident. “I grew up watching zombie movies now I get to reenact a childhood fantasy.”
At 8 p.m. hoards of non-humans slugged their way to Georgia and Sligo Avenues and shuffled to the AFI/Silver Theatre for a special screening of “Dead Snow”, a classic tale of how a ski trip can turn ugly if you run into Nazi zombies. AFI also gave a midnight showing of “Shaun of the Dead” to keep the mob of wandering monsters at bay.
“This event has become a family favorite for the community,” said Michele Anderson, a zombie bride who showed up with her zombie baby and groom. “I see this event becoming an annual thing for us. There’s nothing like caking on the corn syrup with red dye and getting dressed up to walk around the block.”
Zombie walks first gained national attention in California in the early 2000s with marches and parades filling the streets in different residential communities. Now that trend has grown across the world to countries like Australia and Germany.
Though the Silver Spring Zombie Walk won’t go down in the Guinness Book of Records for largest zombie gathering (New Jersey currently holds the record for largest zombie gathering at 4,093.), moving from 100 people to about two thousand people in the last few years is an accomplishment said co-founder Eric Robbins.
The Silver Spring Zombie Walk was created in 2008, when bloggers started discussing where people would need to go in case of a zombie apocalypse, said Robbins. Around the same time the AFI Theatre was showing the movie “Night of the Living Dead” and a group of people thought it would be fun to show up as zombies. Robbins created a Facebook event for this which got a healthy response from the public. And from that act of 150 people dressing up as zombies to see a zombie movie grew to an annual zombie walk.
Last year however, with the growth in population of zombies there was some problems with vandalism. Some zombie participants, while on the walk, banged on restaurant windows and other local property. Some community residents were outraged and didn’t want an incident like that to happen during this year’s zombie walk. Luckily there was no such problem. Robbins said that the year before some participants were just “overzealous zombies.”
While the event is fun and entertaining participates said the process of becoming an undead can be a bit jarring. Nicole Davis, a zombie soldier said it took her about 2 hours to get her costume and make-up together.
“It’s a very intricate process … a lot of people take this very seriously,” said Davis. “The last thing you want to do is come outside not looking your deadly best. There has to be an authenticity to your outfit.”
A zombie nerd, Joe Cullpepper agrees. “There is a lot of pressure on the zombies that come out here. This event has being going on for four years now, I feel like everything zombie has already been done. So to be creative and switch it up a bit can be difficult.”
However, if you didn’t want to dress up as a dead man walking you could come as a hunter of the undead. A group of teens who wanted to add some variety to the event showed up as the defenders of the Apocalypse. These teens dressed in long jackets with shades, often holding Nerf guns or swords.
“We’re here to defend our city from these zombies,” said Marcus Fisher, a self-proclaimed expert zombie destroyer. “These soulless monsters won’t be walking for long,” he continued.
Whether you were a spectator or participant, zombie or zombie hunter, one thing can be agreed upon: it was a night of the living dead
Here are some photos! If you can’t view the slideshow, click here!