Eating brains for a good cause

Adriel Velazquez, Contributing Writer

Soon, the Halloween season will bring the dead out to the streets of Carytown in a costumed faux-apocalypse in the name of charity.

On Saturday, Oct. 24, nearly a thousand people will meet up at the Fountain Lake at Byrd Park to participate in the 11th annual Richmond Zombie Walk benefitting the American Cancer Society.

The Richmond Zombie Walk was founded in 2005 by Roger Barr, the owner of a popular comedy and Halloween website. The first walk attracted close to 100 participants. The zombies made their way through Carytown and reached VCU’s Monroe Park Campus.

After the first year, Barr handed the organization of the event to John Bishop and Anthony Meñez.

“In the first few years, the Richmond Zombie Walk’s route was not limited to Carytown,” Meñez said. “There were at least two to three stops including the VCU campus. Back in those days, we’d even walk through Cabell Library.”

However, the horde diminished in size at every new location they visited. To prevent this, the organizers restricted the path of the zombie walk.

“So now we only raid Carytown and make it count,” he said.

The Zombie Walk is meant for participants and spectators alike, with many people visiting the shops in Carytown simply to witness the arrival of the horde, which is said to be both funny and terrifying.

Hannah Huddle, a senior at VCU and president of the Cosplay Club, attended the Richmond Zombie Walk in 2012.

“There were a lot of people,” Huddle said. “Mostly dressed up as zombies. However, a lot of people came to spectate, and a few were dressed up as survivors. Many dressed as generic zombies, but some did zombiefied versions of characters like Scooby-Doo.”

Before the event starts, participants can take part in the annual costume contests for a chance to win prizes. The categories include most disgusting, best couple/group theme, best pop culture theme, best zombie kid and 2015 Zombie of the Year. The event will also include giveaways sponsored by the Byrd Theatre and Rest in Pieces, a Richmond oddity shop that specializes in taxidermy and animal-corpse-based art.

“Additionally, we will have local illustrator Abigail Larson attending to autograph her posters,” Meñez said. “She has created our event poster for the last six years and will be making them available for purchase on the day of the event.”

The posters will sell for $5 for one poster or $20 for all six.

Over the years, the number of participants has grown almost exponentially. Meñez believes attendance increases by about 100 participants every year.

“Honestly, we stopped counting in 2010 when we reached 600-plus zombies,” said Meñez.

The event has a large focus on costuming and makeup, playing into the Halloween atmosphere of late October. There’s a range of commitment to the costuming, though, and some people might spend hours preparing.

“The makeup totally depends on how far you want to do and how much practice you have,” Huddle said. “If you want to use prosthetics or latex as peeling skin… it can be a couple hours easily.”

Huddle said she went thrift shopping beforehand to get clothes that she did not mind ripping to shreds. If you plan on buying clothes and ripping them up, this will also factor into how much time it will take for you to get ready to terrorize the living.

Overall, Huddle enjoyed the experience of the Richmond Zombie Walk and suggests that VCU students attend.

“I would definitely recommend the event to VCU students,” she said, “It’s easy to go to just watch if you want to check it out and then try walking in the future. The event raises money for charity, so it’s even a good cause.”

Meñez also believes that the zombie walk would be an enjoyable event, but issued a warning to those brave enough to attend:

“Look out! We’re coming for your BRAAAIINS!”

The suggested donation amount for the event is $5 with all donations going towards the American Cancer Society. For more information on where to go and how to participate, visit their website.

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