One of the most popular group gatherings to pop up in the last ten years is the zombie walk. Zombie walks are huge gatherings of people all dressed in zombie costumes. They are held regularly in locations all over the world, but are particularly popular in the US. Zombies have really gone mainstream with the release of movies like Zombieland and TV shows like AMC’s smash hit The Walking Dead and people who love zombies like to get together and dress like zombies with other zombie fans. Of course some people need to be victims too, and often people who unsuspectingly happen on a zombie walk will be good naturedly drawn into the crowd after being “bitten” by a zombie. The first ever recorded zombie walk was held as a promotional event for a horror film festival, but over the years zombie walks have largely become charity events. Many popular zombie walks involve raising awareness of hunger as a worldwide issue and encourage zombies and zombie victims to donate canned food and money to a particular charity that fights hungry. Some zombie walks are highly structured events, and others are done as flash mobs on the spur of the moment.
The first record setting zombie walk as recorded by the Guiness Book of World Records was in 2006 in PA. Dubbed Zombie Fest the event had around 900 people dressed as zombies gathering together to celebrate the classic zombie film Dawn of the Dead at the Monroeville Mall, where some of the original film was set. At that point Zombie Fest was the largest zombie walk on record, but the organizers of the event also made it a charity event and raised money and gathered donations for a local charity group fighting hunger. Ever since then cities and groups have competed with each other to break the record for the largest zombie walk. In an effort to draw fans some groups even organize elaborate dance numbers choreographed to zombie appropriate songs like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. In 2011 groups around the world organized an event called “Thrill the World” where zombie walk participants around the world danced to Thriller in unison, with the performances being taped and posted online. Zombie walks have become so popular that in some countries annual zombie walks draw more than 10,000 people.
So what is about zombie walks that makes people want to take part? There are a lot of factors that go into making zombie walks so popular. Zombies have become a huge part of popular culture and references to the “zombie apocalypse” are made often in both TV shows and movies as well as online. For adults who don’t have kids and don’t usually get to dress up and have fun on Halloween participating in an annual zombie walk is a Halloween tradition and a way they can have fun dressing up on Halloween and party with like-minded people. Dressing up in costume is a fun change from normal routines, and when given the chance to dress up as the undead and raise money for charity most people jump, or rather they zombie shuffle, at the chance.