Cars honked, lunchers looked up from their sandwiches in consternation, and tourists gaped openly as the horde of zombies slowly came shuffling toward them. Young and old, dripping blood and rag-clad, they shambled along, collectively growling for brains and reaching towards onlookers.
Survivors in white hospital masks wielded various forms of weaponry as they wove in and out of the crowd, ducking and dodging the zombies’ grasping hands.
But where was the reason behind all this grisly chaos? Was there a film shoot happening that nobody told us about? Could it be a true zombie apocalypse, a scenario predicted by thousands of films, now finally come to pass?
Well don’t go grabbing for your grenades just yet—as it turns out, the gruesome marchers and their human counterparts were participants in Whitehorse’s second annual Zombie Walk, which took place Sunday, August 26.
Trekking from Main Street to Shipyards Park, the zombies and company took part in a growing popular movement that has been springing up all over North America, sometimes gathering mobs of hundreds, even thousands of people to roam together in costume and paint.
Now, everyone knows that the only proper way to report on a zombie walk is to participate, and thus, like any good reporter, I showed up outside the Elijah Smith building at 12:30 p.m., wearing clothes that I had been warned I must “not particularly care about”.
Though lacking in paint when I arrived, within five minutes flat the exposed skin of my face, arms, and shoulders had been rubbed down with cala- mine lotion, which dries to a lovely greyish-pink pallor, and I was covered in bloody handprints with a black bruise of paint daubed over one eye.
Though more than sufficient, looking around I could see that my zombification had been a rush job. Many of the costumes were much more elaborate—ripped clothing, crazy hairstyles, plastic limbs covered in blood, coloured contacts, synthetic rotting flesh, open wounds, zombie-blaster guns, gas masks, and bloody hospital scrubs, to name but a few.
The child zombies had some of the best outfits and face-paint there, and there were plenty of them running around. The youngest one couldn’t have been more than three or four years old.
After much milling about, a few minor attacks and plenty of invitations to passers-by, between 40 and 50 zombies, survivors, and other walkers were assembled. Covered in blood and bruises, the event organizer, Sheila MacLean, hopped up onto the stairs of the building and raised a collective cry.
“BRAAAIIIINNSSS!!!” Everybody screamed. And without farther ado, we were off.
Shuffling and shambling down the street, it quickly became apparent that what would normally be a brisk 15-minute walk was going to take much longer when the mode of transport was the zombie shuffle. Plus, there were so many things to do along the way!
The folks in Subway looked genuinely scared when about 10 zombies plastered themselves suddenly to the window, clawing at the glass and growling obscenely. The best part, however, had to be the tourists. As we stood waiting at the crosswalk at Main and Second, several zombies approached an elderly tourist couple, staggering toward them with arms outstretched.
Visibly panicked, the man made shooing motions and quickly hurried his wife in the other direction. This was one of the best reactions—many passers-by simply stopped and stared, or pointed and waved. I can already see the postcards sent home, raving about the crazy thing that just happened in the Yukon.
We continued along Second, held up only by a few spontaneous attacks that occurred randomly in our midst, which inevitably drew more zombies and caused some hold-ups in our procession. Eventually, we finally made our way to Shipyards Park and from there began to disperse slowly.
MacLean was pressured to make a speech, and eventually hopped up on a table to deliver an address.?”There comes a time in every young zombie’s life,” she announced ceremoniously to the small crowd, “When they have to ask themselves, have I eaten enough brains?”
“NO!” We all roared back, simultaneously.
“You people are the finest brains and flesh I’ve ever had the pleasure of shambling down the street with!”
MacLean’s speech was rewarded with many cheers.
“It’s nice to put yourself out there, for no specific reason, just to get out of your comfort zone and see people staring,” she says later, as things are winding down. “And people are so enthusiastic…the best part is the kids, they get right into it!”
MacLean will be organizing next year’s zombie walk as well, and has even bigger plans in the works. “I want to have some organized drums,” she says, “and plan some people along the trail in advance that we can eat along the way.”
Whatever happens next year, it seems a unanimous agreement that this year’s Zombie Walk was a complete success, a light-hearted event that allowed adults and children alike to just get out and be silly on a sunny summer Sunday.
Willow Gamberg is a former What’s Up Yukon intern who writes about music and other arts-related topics.