By Daryl Foust —
The world’s largest walk of the so called ‘living dead’ that doesn’t take place on a movie set is right here in Louisville, Ky. Thousands of people flood the Highlands sporting just a cut up t-shirt covered in fake blood and others dressed in their best zombie-fied character costumes. I spent the entire day of the Zombie Walk thinking about what costume I would rip to shreds and cover in paint. Then it hit me! An old costume from my first year in college that I wouldn’t dare wear in public again, for the Walk. If I was going to do this thing I was going to do it right. Hours are dedicated to constructing the perfect costume of death, for the Walk.
Why do thousands of us gather to do this? For nine years, this event has been held annually on Aug. 29. It was originally started by a very small group to celebrate the shared birthday of its creators. Since its start, the event has grown into quite a spectacle. There is no way to know exactly how many people gather to participate in the bloody parade but it’s been estimated that nearly 18,000 have shown up years before. I’d be willing to bet enough to fill the KFC Yum! Center gathered for the 2013 event. The streets are completely shut down for miles down Bardstown Road as the pre-parties at bars in the area begin around 6 p.m.
To some, the parade is to celebrate the birth of the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson. The creators coincidently share a birthday with the pop icon. In the 1980’s, Jackson released an album that featured a song we all know and love today as Thriller. As well as, you guessed it, Zombies. A lot of them. Choreographed dancing of the living dead. At the time of its release, the single struggled to get airing time on media outlet channels and some believed it was for racial reasons. Five years following the death of the music icon and three decades following the release of Thriller, at exactly 8:29 p.m. on Aug. 29 a parade of almost 20,000 “Creatures crawl in search of blood, To terrorize your neighborhood, And whosoever shall be found, Without the soul for getting down.” Somewhere I know Michael is smiling down as the “Night creatures call and the dead start to walk in their masquerade” in Louisville.
Video by Regina Deveary.
Photos courtesy of Sasha Perez