Don't be alarmed, but you might encounter zombies stumbling around downtown Phoenix this weekend. A lot of 'em.
You needn't worry, though. Neither the zombie apocalypse nor some mass viral outbreak has occurred. It's just participants of this year's Zombie Walk going for a stroll.
The annual event, which is now in its ninth year, is one of the hallmarks of Halloween in the Valley and features thousands of participants. And most everyone involved will be dressed as a zombie or a character from The Walking Dead, Resident Evil, or other zombie-related movies, television shows, and video games.
Every year, participants stumble and stagger along a 1.5-mile route through the streets of downtown starting at dusk while experiencing their own version of Night of the Living Dead.
There are also festivities taking place both before and after the walk, which include live music, a costume contest, entertainment, and more.
This latest edition of the event, Zombie Walk 9, will happen on Saturday, October 28, and will feature radio personality John Holmberg of KUPD’s Morning Sickness as the grand marshal. Proceeds will benefit the Arizona Hemophilia Association, which organizes the walk.
What else is on tap for this year’s walk (other than lots of zombies)? We’ve assembled a guide filled with all the information you’ll need to know.
When and Where: Zombie Walk 9 will take place on Saturday, October 28, at the Diamondbacks Pavilion outside of Chase Field at Fourth and Jackson streets. The pre-walk celebration begins at 3 p.m., the walk itself departs at dusk (between 7 and 7:30 p.m.), and the post-walk festivities go until 11 p.m.
Admission: There’s a $10 entry fee, which benefits the Arizona Hemophilia Association. Kids 12 and under are admitted for free.
Age Limits: It’s a family-friendly event and all ages are welcome. You’ll have to be 21 or over to imbibe, though.
Weather: The forecast calls for sunny skies on Saturday and temperatures around 90 degrees when the pre-party gets going before cooling off a bit by the time the walk begins. In other words, dress comfortably and stay hydrated.
Getting There: If you’re driving to the event, take Interstate 17 or Interstate 10 to Seventh Street and proceed either north or south until you get to Chase Field. Otherwise, we recommend taking the light rail. There’s a station less than a block away and fares are $2 for a one-way ride or $4 for all-day pass.
Parking: The Jefferson Street Garage is next door to the event and costs $5. Several other lots and structures (like the Fourth Street and Buchanan Garage) are within walking distance and have comparable rates. If you opt for street parking, meters are $1 to $1.50 per hour and run until 10 p.m.
Food and Drink: A variety of food trucks and vendors will be at the party, and soft drinks will be available for purchase. Those of legal age seeking more adult beverages can buy beer, wine, and mixed drinks.
Water: Look, you're going to be outside, you're going to be walking, and you're probably going to be in costume while doing so. Put simply, you should be drinking a fair amount of water. Attendees will be allowed to bring a bottle or two into the event and vendors will also be selling water. Your should make use of either option.
Activities and Entertainment: Besides the walk itself, there will be DJs, a kids zone, vendors, a zombification station, a costume contest for prizes, and plenty of people-watching. Local bands Good Boy Daisy, Bear Ghost, and Darkness Dear Boy will also perform.
Costumes: Any sort of zombie-inspired costuming is encouraged, even if it’s just makeup and some tattered clothing. You could also dress as someone from zombie-related movies, TV shows, and video games (including 28 Days Later, Resident Evil, or The Walking Dead) or come as undead versions of historical figures or pop-cultural characters. It’s up to you.
Local cosplay groups like the Department of Zombie Defense, the Arizona Ghostbusters, and the Corpse Crew will also be present at this year's event or participate in the walk.
Note: Just like at many recent geek events in the Valley, there will be a prop weapons ban in place at this year’s Zombie Walk. Participants won’t be allowed to bring any sort of mock or replica firearms into the event, as well as any other kind of foam or plastic weaponry. Security will screen patrons upon entry.
Organizers say that certain actors and members of cosplay groups will be exempt from these rules but will be “inspected and monitored” by local law enforcement.
Getting Zombified: Various costume stores around the Valley – including such spots as Easley’s Fun Shop, Groovy Ghoulies in Mesa, and Arizona Fun Services in Tempe – all sell zombie makeup and accessories. And any thrift store in the area will have secondhand clothes you can rip up for your zombie outfit.
There will also be a “Zombification Station” at the event that can help turn you into an undead creature. Stylists from Toni & Guy will give you a proper zombie hairdo and local makeup artists will make your face look suitably ashen. It’s $5 per person for each service.
Costume Contest: If your get-up is particularly awesome, you might want to consider entering the Zombie Walk’s costume contest. Prizes will be awarded, including $300 cash and a Tuft & Needle mattress for the first-place winner.
Pre-judging is scheduled to take place between 6:30 and 7 p.m. in the KUPD booth and the contest starts at 8:30 p.m.
Route: As you can see above, the walk will follow a 1.5-mile route similar to last year’s trek. Led by KUPD’s John Holmberg, folks will depart from south of Talking Stick Resort Arena and go west on Jackson Street. They’ll head up First Avenue before doubling back and heading back to the arena via Buchanan and Second streets.
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Bring: Comfortable shoes, a fully charged smartphone, cash, sun protection, and extra makeup. Well-behaved pets are welcome, provided you’ve got ‘em on a leash. And, as we mentioned, costumes.
Don't Bring: Any actual zombies, as well as any sort of weapon, real or fake.
Event Schedule: Zombie Walk 9 will feature eight hours of fun and activities. Here’s a complete rundown of what’s taking place.
3 p.m.: Gates open and pre-party begins
4 p.m.: Good Boy Daisy performs
5:30 p.m.: Darkness Dear Boy performs
6:30-7 p.m.: Pre-judging sessions for the costume contest at KUPD's booth
7-7:30 p.m.: Walk departs from south of Talking Stick Resort Arena
8:30 p.m.: Costume contest takes place
9 p.m.: Bear Ghost performs
11 p.m.: Event ends