From the vaults of 2013: A Toronto Zombie Walk retrospective

2013 was the year of the ZOMBIE! Zombies were not only everywhere they were also breaking out of their Halloween confines to appear at anytime of year. I was happy to work with the Toronto Zombie Walk to encourage and promote the unleashing of the undead upon the expecting and un~expecting at any time possible.

 

As The Toronto Zombie Walk organizer, I am lucky to have such a deadicated and talented scream team to work with.  In 2013 the Toronto Zombie Walk flourished due to a large blood pool of volunteers who would dress up and attend appearances, fiend raisers and events to help spread the undead word, recruit more volunteers and raise money to hold the Toronto Zombie Walk throughout the entire year. Behind the scenes a group of Board and Committee members worked along side me to coordinate, plan and implement strategies to make sure that we deliver the best Zombie Walk possible, while keeping the event inclusive and free.

 

In 2013 the festivities started early, in February I was invited to be the queen of a zombie Mardi Gras Krewe, The Krewe of the Living Dead, in New Orleans. Adam Invader and I not only took part in Mardi Gras celebrations, but we were also invited to see the Krewe of Chewbacchus den where bike floats and costumes were assembled. We were so inspired by the creativity, ingenuity and sense of fun that the street krewes held. These groups worked all year to create curiosities for Mardi Gras. It was a mind-blowing experience and if you attended the 2013 Toronto Zombie Walk you can probably tell that we were heavily influenced by it.

 

Pic by Molly Kennedy

photo by Glenn Hicks

We returned home just in time for our first TZW fiendraiser of the year. The They Live themed fiend raiser featured a screening of They Live, along with a musical act by Luau or Die. A surprising amount of people made their own They Live masks and those who didn’t CONSUMED bubble gum or CONFORMED to wearing sunglasses .The event was a success and a great way to start out fiendraising for the 2013 Toronto Zombie Walk.

In April we were thrilled to be asked to be part of Night of the Living Dead Live, a George Romero approved stage production of the movie. Our Volunteer Co-ordinator, Tiffany Mark, worked with NOTLDL to recruit black and white, classic-styled zombies to be part of the stage production every night for 3 weeks. Zombies were part of the Moan Zone and moaned on cue, as well as attacked the actors at various points in the play. It was definitely an unforgettable experience.

pic by Adrienne Everitt

We stuck to our yearly convention circuit and added some new conventions to our roster. We were invited to the join Fangoria at the Niagara Falls Comic Con and had a table at the 2013 Scarefest, a haunter’s convention. These were definitely two of our favorite events and we can’t wait for them again in 2014.

In fact, the year seemed so busy with trying to raise funds and make appearances at events that we decided to plan a secret attack, just for fun. So in July we successfully invaded Sugar Beach. Zombies of all ages stumbled down the hot pavement, crusted with melting blood cooking under the scorching sun, maggots squirming on rotting flesh, and attacked the unsuspecting Sugar Beach crowd. Our victims had little time to escape. After gorging on well-baked tanners we buried our extra limbs and settled in for a round of brain volleyball. We ended the day covered in sand, blood and big smiles. We are in talks about next year’s invasion as we speak. This may be a new annual event!

photo by Phil Pattison

In ways, this was a science experiment of a year, we saw this popularity of the year round ghoul as an opportunity to unleash not only the walking dead, but other creatures of the underworld and invite them to join our bloody brood.  Zombies have always been inclusive and why not invite other monsters to join in?

 

With this came a new site, which was designed by our very own Pam Sloan and an amazing new poster designed by The Happy Undertaker, to promote the Toronto Zombie Walk and Halloween Parade. Why a parade? We wanted to get the streets as our new vision included hearses, floats and krewes, along with thousands of zombies!

 

We were thrilled that The Heart and Stroke Foundation supported our new vision and agreed to partner with us again to spread the word of the importance of learning hands-Only ™  CPR. The CPR Makes you Undead Campaign of 2012 that the TZW had the privilege of working on had been so successful that The HSF decided to work with zombie walks across Canada in 2013 to spread awareness.

We knew we would have to start creating floats if we wanted other people to do the same. So with a Bicycle float in mind, we set about to make our own moving monstrosity. This became the brain-child of Venus Silva, a talented committee member who designed the EYE-cycle, a giant eyeball float that we could take out to promote the parade and walk.

 

The float was finished just in time for our popular event The Toronto Zombie Car Wash. This was the 4th annual car wash, with proceeds going to running the walk. Where else can you have your car attacked by zombies while you are in the safety of your vehicle, but then also have them wash off the blood and gore they left behind? This is our most popular event, besides the Toronto Zombie Walk, and a favorite for the zombie volunteers too. Keep your eyes peeled for next year’s Car Wash.

Photo by Jonathan Tan

photo by Jerry Thistle

We spent the fall promoting The Toronto Zombie Walk and Halloween Parade, this included many appearances in monster costumes.  A couple of our favorites were a visit to Busker Fest as The Bride of Frankenstein, a Sugar Skull and a zombie where we were mistaken for street performers and ended up on the CP24 weather, as well as the jumbotron at Yonge and Dundas. Another memorable moment was when a couple of our eyeballs and the eyeball float, plus zombies, a wolf-women, a medusa, a banshee and the devil went out for a night on the town at Nuit Blanche. A ghoul time was had by all!

Finally it was October 26th and the 2013 Toronto Zombie Walk was upon us. By the time we reached the day, the walk had accumulated a zombie marching band, a skeleton dirge band and hearse, Skeletons on bikes, a zombie Choir, and many more krewes! The Heart and Stroke brought out their Big Bike, which carried Toronto Paramedics dressed as zombies. We also saw our first motor vehicle float, presented by Evil Dead the Musical. The float held a giant necronomicon and two zombies rode on the back of it throwing out Evil Dead shirts and goodies.

photo by Cory Mark

Photo by Anna-Monika Nazarenko (http://www.flickr.com/photos/106822207@N03/)

Photo by Cory Mark

Despite the worst weather in Toronto Zombie Walk history, including blowing torrential rain and wind that ripped vendor tents from their weights, the walk was attended by a horde of 8,000-10,000 zombies and a few hundred other monsters. Thousands of non-costumed spectators gathered along the sidewalk to watch the festivities. Rick Mercer also joined in as a zombie for a very zombie Rick Mercer Report. Participants enjoyed an amazing post parade performance by The Independents, from North Carolina and Linnea Quigley came all the way from Florida to be our Grand Marshal. We ended the night at a post walk Halloween Party held by our sponsors, Fangoria. We believe the event was one of the best Zombie Walks yet and look forward to further expanding our zombie walk.

Photo by Sequence Media

Photo by Anna Monika

We are still enjoying all the pictures coming in from the event and would like to encourage you to share your pictures with us. We now have an archive being put together by committee member Shannon Stafford and look forward to building a web archive in the not so distant future.

I’d like to thank the TZW Board of Directors, the TZW Committee, all of our volunteers, our sponsors, our vendors, and all of those who attend. Without any of you this event would not be possible. I look forward to the costumes, enthusiasm and fun you bring to the event every year and I can’t wait to see what will happen in 2014.

 

Best wishes for 2014!

 

Thea Munster

TORONTO ZOMBIE WALK © 2016