Zombies Attack Paducah!

October 17, 2016

A lot of people attended the Rand Paul rally on Saturday, October 15, but there was another reason to be downtown that evening. A horde of over 150 zombies shambled their way from across the street from Fat Moe’s Bar and Grill to the Farmer’s Market on the riverfront. It was the Eighth Annual Paducah Zombie Walk, and as always, it was a great success.

Every year since 2009, people arrive downtown dressed as zombies and walk a route in-character, growling and roaring at entertained spectators along the way. At the starting point, canned goods and monetary donations are taken up to benefit Paducah Family Services, people register, and the Zombie Walk begins. Participants limp with curved backs and outstretched arms, reaching for the people lined up along the zombies’ route to take pictures and videos. The zombies aren’t allowed to touch, but they do their share of scaring by just making noises. The Zombie Walk hosts hundreds of people every year, and it’s growing exponentially, says organizer Garrett Dykes.

“I started this in 2009,” he tells The Mustang Messenger, “and it’s only growing every year. Our biggest goal is to raise awareness for it, and for it to continue to grow.”

The 2016 Zombie Walk was one of romance. The horde met a wedding party on the sidewalk outside of a church, and the bride and groom were quick to ask the zombies for a photo-op. One of these very pictures was the one to appear on the cover of The Paducah Sun’s Sunday paper. This was a huge contrast to the 2012 Zombie Walk, where wedding photos were being taken inside a building with large glass windows, and zombies photobombed. The groom shooed them off, and the Zombie Walk has not been since held on that side of Broadway. At the end of this year’s Walk, Dykes proposed to his girlfriend of two and a half years in front of a group of zombies. They cheered her on, and she of course said yes.

“We want to thank each and every one of you for coming tonight,” Carl the Spokes-Zombie said to the crowd, alluding to the diverse group of zombies in front of him. Children as young as one year old attend, chaperoned by their participant parents, of course. Myles Gaia, an MCHS sophomore, attends every year with a group of friends, wearing different zombie costumes every year, each more interesting and theatrical than the last. Selena Bell, a junior here, attended for the first time this year.

“It’s cool. I was a protester when I got bit. I was just like ‘whatever’ then and I still am as a zombie,” she commented, explaining her costume.

The Zombie Walk isn’t just for kids, though. The vast majority of participants are adults. A man dressed as Negan from The Walking Dead was there, and he was a spitting image of the character on the show. He, of course, had no zombie makeup on, just a leather jacket and slicked-back hair, announcing at his arrival, “I want half of everything!”

Fifty-two-year-old Bradley Bell is a testament to the diversity of interests the Zombie Walk attracts. He’s an engineer, father, and husband, as well as a Zombie Walk veteran. He’s been attending since 2012. He wants the event to grow as well, a sentiment shared by most attendees.

“Every year, it just keeps getting bigger and better. It’s tons of fun, and it’s for a great cause. I’d encourage everyone to come next year. It’s a blast,” he says, grinning through gray zombie makeup and fake blood.

Most people might see the Zombie Walk as nerdy, but it’s a great way to be charitable while also having fun. It doesn’t take long, and it entertains spectators as well as participants. If you find yourself bored in mid-October of next year, throw on some old clothes and zombie makeup, and shamble down to Broadway in downtown Paducah for the Ninth Annual Paducah Zombie Walk.