The dead walk in Silver Spring
Second annual Zombie Walk draws up to 700
As Greenbelt resident Jeremy Williams approached the stoplight at Bonifant Street and Georgia Avenue on Saturday night, the last thing he expected to see was a horde of brain-hungry zombies lurching toward his car and smearing blood on his windows.
"I was trying to go to that gas station back there but it was closed, so I came up here and all of the sudden: zombies," Williams said with a nervous laugh as the undead swarmed the car behind him and he put away his cell phone camera. "I would stop at a red light to see that anytime!"
Another driver stepped out of his car and yelled at the zombies to go away as the light turned green.
"What's wrong with you people?" the driver shouted, despite the fact that it was plain to see: They're zombies; they're all messed up.
Beginning at 7 p.m., the zombie horde began to form at the Quarry House Tavern on Georgia Avenue, the predetermined starting place for the second annual Silver Spring Zombie Walk. Participants showed up in tattered clothes with heavy make-up and the occasional prop, such as a plastic decapitated head or baseball bats and shovels held by the few "survivor" characters to fend off their ghoulish participants.
Event organizers Karl Ericson and Eric Robbins dressed up as the two main characters, Shaun and Ed, from the 2004 zombie comedy "Shaun of the Dead," which was screened at 10 p.m. at the AFI Silver Theatre to cap off the walk. Up to 700 people attended this year's event, as opposed to the 150 at the inaugural event last year, according to Ericson.
"I know the Shaun of the Dead' showing is sold out, and that's a 400-seat theatre, and they've added an overflow show because there's so much demand," he said.
While he was happy to see a growing enthusiasm in the community for the event, which is independently planned and organized with minimal corporate sponsorship, Robbins worried that he and Ericson would need to coordinate more with local businesses for space and funding in the future.
"For minimal effort and minimal cost and very little sponsorship, this is spectacular. I couldn't have asked for a better turnout this year," Robbins said. "If we can carry this hype over into next year, I really don't want to sell out to the man, but this is going to get too big for a couple of people."
After meeting at Quarry House and Piratz Tavern across the street the zombies stumbled, in character, down Georgia Avenue and up Ellsworth Drive on their way to the theatre on Colesville Road. Passersby and business owners scrambled to get out of the way on Ellsworth as the zombies playfully lunged at children and rapped on windows.
"I didn't know about this until just about two days ago," said onlooker Chris Bedal, who watched the ghastly parade from the corner of Fenton Street and Colesville. "I came to be entertained, maybe next year I'll dress up, but I had to observe it first."
As for the zombies, inspiration came from both the classic, slow-moving zombies from George A. Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" to the faster, more agile "rage" ghouls in the "28 Days Later" series. Many participants even came ready with elaborate stories on how they were zombified.
"I was slashed in the head and eaten by a waiter," explained Richard Molnar of Washington, D.C. "I didn't tip him enough so he ate my brain and made me a zombie."
Mike Cornett, of Silver Spring, explained his undead state in even simpler terms.
"I just clawed my way out of the grave," he said with a toothy smile, adding that he first ventured forth from his coffin for last year's walk and couldn't wait to return this year. "Last year it was so much fun, chasing ambulances and buses and scaring the hell out of the little kids on Ellsworth."