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A zombie walk is an organized public gathering of people who dress up in zombie costumes. Usually taking place in an urban center, the participants make their way around the city streets and public spaces (or a series of taverns in the case of a zombie pub crawl) in an orderly fashion.
Zombie walks have become relatively common in large cities, especially in North America, often becoming annual traditions, though some are spontaneous "flash mob" events or performance art; many zombie walks in the United States have been "hunger marches", intended to raise awareness of world hunger. Promoted primarily through word of mouth and online message boards, zombie walks are an underground activity. During the walks participants are encouraged to remain in character as zombies and to communicate only in a manner consistent with zombie behavior, which may include grunting, groaning or slurred, moaning calls for "brains".
The complexity and purpose of some zombie walks have grown with their popularity. As an advanced technique to heighten interest and realism, some zombie mobs will "eat" victims to create new zombies, in sight of onlookers. The better-coordinated zombie mobs will establish a route and an easily recognizable signal, so that other participants can plant themselves along the route in old, tearable clothes, so that as the mob shambles along it can discover and devour new victims. As the zombies surround the new victim to loudly feed, concealing him or her from witnesses' view, they tear clothes and quickly apply makeup and fake blood to create a new zombie, who then shambles along with the ever-expanding pack to find new victims. Some participants occasionally dress up as soldiers who are called in to contain the outbreak, or survivors who are trying to defend themselves from the onslaught of the zombie horde. Some events are staged as spoof political rallies organized "to raise awareness of zombie rights", with participants carrying placards. Many zombie walks have also been staged as "hunger marches" with the intent of raising awareness of world hunger and collecting items for food banks.
The earliest zombie walk on record was put together rather last-minute at the Gencon Gaming Convention in Milwaukee, WI in August 2000. The event was created to poke good-natured fun at the Vampire LARPers that were taking over large portions of the convention, and disrupt their games. Michael Yates, Mark Stafford, Jacob Skowronek and several others organized the event with roughly 60 participants. The event was later recorded in the book "40 Years of Gencon"  with photos and recollections from the organizers. While it was rumored that the organizers were arrested and thrown out of the convention for their flash mob of zombies, they were simply questioned by security before being told to disband.
Another early zombie walk was held on 19 August 2001 in Sacramento, California. The event, billed as "The Zombie Parade," was the brain-child of Bryna Lovig, who suggested it to the organizers of The Trash Film Orgy as a way to promote their annual midnight film festival. It was held again on 27 July 2002, and has since become an annual event, drawing over 1000 participants in 2012.
The idea spread to other cities and in October 2003 a gathering billed as a "Zombie Walk", was held in Toronto, Ontario.[not in citation given] It was organized by local horror movie fan Thea Munster, and had only six participants.[not in citation given] In subsequent years the Zombie Walk grew tremendously in size. The Zombie Walk then moved to Vancouver, B.C., spreading the zombie walk tradition to that city. On 27 August 2005, over 400 participants proceeded through Vancouver's Pacific Centre Mall, travelled on the SkyTrain (referred to for the event as the "SkyBrain" or the "BrainTrain") and continued 35 blocks to Mountain View Cemetery.[not in citation given]. In 2011, Calgary, Alberta held their first Zombie walk along the downtown core. It has since become an annual event gathering over 1000 people each time and growing.
The mid to late 2000s saw an exponential gain in popularity for zombie walks due largely to the success of zombie films at the time: the Resident Evil movies, 28 Days Later, Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, George A. Romero's Land of the Dead, and Zombieland being a few examples. Documentation of the phenomenon appeared in mainstream news media and blogs, such as Boingboing and the Blog of the Living Dead. Zombie walks soon spread across North America and to cities around the globe, such as Mar del Plata, Argentina. On 27 October 2012, Singapore's first large-scale zombie walk - Singapore Zombie Walk - will be held in Clarke Quay at 829pm. Rio de Janeiro had its first Zombie Walk on 2 November 2007 (Day of the Dead holiday) and the event has become annual since then.
On 29 October 2006, nearly 900 "zombie walkers" gathered at the Monroeville Mall outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which served as the set of George A. Romero's classic zombie film Dawn of the Dead, to participate in Pittsburgh's first annual Walk of the Dead. In addition to setting a Guinness World Record, the event was a benefit for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Pittsburgh's zombie walk has since grown into an annual horror festival called Zombie Fest. Zombie Fest is organized by The It's Alive Show, a local Pittsburgh late night horror and science fiction television program. The Pittsburgh festival plays host to the annual Walk of the Dead as well as a zombie ball, costume contest, concerts, and celebrity guest appearances. Zombie Fest also serves as the headquarters of The It's Alive Show's World Zombie Day, a world hunger charity event.
Zombie walks are also a regular occurrence at ZomBcon, "the world's first zombie convention." ZomBcon takes place every October in Seattle, Washington. Apart from zombie walks, ZomBcon also features panel discussions with zombie authors, actors and artists, workshops, film screenings, and other activities for zombie fans. ZomBcon also organizes Seattle's annual Red, White and Dead zombie walk every July.
World records 
The first zombie walk world record was set on 29 October 2006 at Monroeville Mall outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during Pittsburgh's first annual Walk of the Dead. Guinness World Records certified that 894 people participated in the walk. The second zombie walk at Monroeville Mall during the 2007 Zombie Fest was also verified by Guinness World Records as the largest gathering of zombies to date (28 October 2007), with 1,028 participants.
The 2007 Toronto Zombie Walk drew a crowd of over 1,100 zombies, a number confirmed by Toronto Police Services. At the time, this was the largest zombie walk on record. A zombie march in Brisbane on 25 May 2008 set an unofficial record of over 1,500 participants according to media reports. On 21 June 2008, a zombie march took place in Chicago with over 1,550 zombies estimated, setting a new unofficial record.
On 31 October 2008, a zombie walk took place in the Old Market Square of Nottingham, England, with 1,227 attendees. The event was organized by GameCity, and the zombies did dances to zombie-related songs such as "Thriller", "Disturbia" and "Ghostbusters". There was also a performance from American singer Jonathan Coulton. The event achieved a new official Guinness World Record for largest zombie walk.
In June 2009, Pittsburgh zombie fans won back the Guinness World Record after Guinness verified that the Zombie Fest 'Walk of the Dead' at Monroeville Mall on 26 October 2008, had 1,341 participating walkers.
On 3 July 2009, a zombie walk organized by Fremont Outdoor Movies in Seattle, Washington beat all previous zombie walk records. Guinness World Records officially recorded 3,894 zombies at the 'Red, White and Dead' zombie event, though local news claimed 4,277 participants.
In October 2009, Guinness World Records officially recorded and approved a new record for the largest gathering of zombies. The record was set at ‘The Big Chill Festival’ in Ledbury, England, on 6 August 2009. There were 4,026 zombie mob participants.
On 25 October 2009, the biggest recorded gathering of zombies in the Southern Hemisphere occurred in Brisbane with over 5,000 participants reportedly in attendance as reported by the Queeensland Police. The walk was also a charity event helping to raise awareness and money for the aptly chosen organization, The Brain Foundation of Australia. On 30 October 2009, zombie walkers in Grand Rapids, Michigan attempted a second run at the zombie mob world record. An estimated 8,000 participants braved rainy weather to gather in Calder Plaza outside of Grand Rapids's City and County buildings. The event was coordinated by Rob Bliss, organizer of Grand Rapids' first zombie walk. Approximately forty to 50 volunteers collected signatures from the crowd. The record is currently unverified by Guinness World Records. Organizers of the fifth annual Denver Zombie Crawl in Denver, Colorado counted more than 7,300 zombie walkers in the event. This is considered to be a low figure as up to 1/3 of the total participants did not walk through the counter. The crawl took place on 23 October 2010, in downtown Denver at the 16th Street Mall. On 24 October 2010, a reported 10,000 strong zombie walk took place in Brisbane. As with previous years, the event raised money for the Brain Foundation of Australia. Guinness has yet to officially recognize either event as the new world record.
Guinness officially recognized a new record for the world's largest gathering of zombies on 30 October 2010, at the 3rd annual New Jersey Zombie Walk on the Asbury Park Boardwalk in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Guinness recorded 4,093 zombies at the event, though organizers along with police and fire officials estimate more than 5,000 zombies were in attendance.
In July 2011, more cities would attempt to break the zombie gathering Guinness world record held by Asbury Park, New Jersey. On 2 July 2011, Seattle attempted to take back the record at the 3rd annual Fremont "Red, White and Dead" Zombie Walk hosted by Fremont Outdoor Movies. The zombie count according to Fremont organizers was 4,522 in attendance with estimations of over 4,800–5,000 after the official stop point for counting zombies. Representatives from Guinness did not attend the event. On 23 July 2011, The Dublin Zombie Walk in Dublin, Ireland had an estimated 8,000 zombies in attendance, but confirmation is still pending from Guinness World Records.
October 2011 also saw multiple attempts to break The New Jersey Zombie Walk's Guinness world record for largest zombie gathering. On 8 October, the unofficial count for the Pittsburgh World Zombie Day Zombie Walk was 4,900 zombies. Over 7,000 zombies are believed to have attended the 9th Annual Toronto Zombie Walk on 22 October. Both the annual Denver Zombie Crawl on 22 October and the annual Brisbane Zombie Walk on 23 October claim to have had over 12,000 zombie participants. Guinness has yet to officially recognize a new world record for largest gathering of zombies. On 29 October, the city of Long Beach, California, set out to break a World Record as part of its fourth annual Zombie Walk event, produced by community organizations Long Beach Cinematheque and Mondo Celluloid, and partnered with Michael Jackson-inspired flash mob "Thrill the World", who set out to break a world record of their own with the "World's Biggest Thriller Flash Mob." The endeavor gained world-wide press, with media covering the event from as far as the United Kingdom (Telegraph UK). By night's end an estimated 14,000 participants had taken over the entirety of the downtown area, breaking local business sales records and all but shutting down traffic for hours. However, Guinness did not officially recognize that a new world record had been set. In November 2011, Mexico counted 9,806 for their large zombie gathering, but this was not recognized by Guinness World Records.
The zombie walk of 20 October 2012 in Santiago, Chile had more than 12,000 zombies walking in the city, though no Guinness record was broken. On 28 October 2012, Buenos Aires, Argentina reached the 25,000 zombies dethroning the zombie walk of Chile.
As of November 2012, Twin Cities (Minneapolis–Saint Paul) holds the current world record for zombie gathering, recognized by Guinness at a count of 8,027 at Midway Stadium in Saint Paul on 13 October 2012. Estimates of the entire Twin Cities crawl put the zombie event upwards of 30,000 zombie participates, surpassing any other gathering of its kind, official or not.
Charity work continues to be a common component at zombie walks across the planet. Community service organizations such as Zombie Squad have used zombie walks as demonstrations to raise funds and awareness for local and global issues, such as world hunger.
Both world record walks at Pittsburgh's Zombie Fest have included food drives. In 2008, The It's Alive Show (the organizers of Zombie Fest), initiated World Zombie Day. The It's Alive Show encouraged cities all over the globe to celebrate World Zombie Day by holding zombie walks to raise awareness of global hunger. The first World Zombie Day took place 26 October 2008, the same day as Pittsburgh's Zombie Fest, when more than 30 cities worldwide took part in this day of global zombie walking. Food drives for local hunger-related charities took place at each participating city's zombie walk. Pittsburgh's walk alone brought in more than one ton of food to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. The second World Zombie Day took place 11 October 2009 with even more participation from cities all over the world.
Oct 21, 2012 saw over 12,000 participants march through the city of Brisbane. With a new music festival format added to the event, Brisbane Zombie Walk raised $55,000 for the Brain Foundation of Australia, making them the most successful Zombie Charity event in the world. In 2011, the Brisbane Zombie Walk made over $25,000 for the Brain Foundation.
Pub crawl variant 
Some zombie walks incorporate pub crawling, during which participants visit multiple bars over the course of the walk.
On 15 October 2005, the first large-scale zombie pub crawl was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The crawl consisted of roughly 150 participants in zombie costumes moving from bar to bar in the city's Northeast district. The Minneapolis "Zombie Pub Crawl" has since become an annual event and attendance has grown exponentially; each year it takes place in a different area of the city.
Similar large-scale, zombie-themed pub crawls have developed in New Orleans, Providence, Reno, Nevada, Houston, Eau Claire, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Philadelphia's zombie pub crawl is held on Easter Sunday in celebration of Jesus, "the world's most famous zombie". Zombie pub crawls are now a regular occurrence in cities all over the world.
Due to the spontaneous and naturally chaotic nature of a zombie apocalypse, some zombie walks have been host to criticism.
On 31 October 2006, a young woman in Bloomington, Indiana reported to police that a group of "zombies" attacked her Land Rover by covering the vehicle in "purple goo". The zombies in question turned out to be participants in a small, local zombie walk, and no arrests were made. At the 2006 Vancouver Zombie Walk, an incident occurred in which an impatient driver attempted to drive his car through a crowd of zombies headed down Robson St. This resulted in some minor injuries among the zombies, severe damage to the car, a number of insurance claims, and coverage on CBC Television.
On 1 May 2010, the annual Zombie Shuffle in Melbourne saw the largest attendance in its five year history, but some locals complained of the mess that the zombie "gore" left behind as well as the walk's disruption of a play for preschoolers. On 19 August 2012, a Russian zombie walk in support of Pussy Riot in Omsk, Siberia was banned by the local government.
See also 
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