Picture this: A scene eerily similar to such classic horror fare as Night of the Living Dead -- throngs of zombies lurching forward, slouched in unison toward their target, arms outstretched in a parody of sleepwalking with what appears to be…canned goods?
Halloween is fast approaching, and with it comes a different kind of charity drive that has slowly gained traction in cities and communities worldwide over the past several years. From Utica to Utah, Ohio to Australia, “zombies” are walking the streets, and it’s for a good cause; more specifically, several good causes.
While the exact origins of zombie walks are nebulous at best -- one of the earliest documented mass gatherings of folks dressed as the undead occurred in Sacramento in 2001 -- the charity component to such endeavors has been a more recent development. In 2008, the hosts of a Pittsburgh public access program The It’s Alive Show initiated the first ever World Zombie Day -- and an accompanying “Zombie Fest” in Pittsburgh -- and encouraged people worldwide to dress up as zombies and participate in organized walks to raise awareness of global hunger. It worked. The first Zombie Fest in Pittsburgh raised more than 2000 pounds of food in a single day, and this year’s iteration, held on 10/10/10, will aim to beat that figure while setting a new Guinness World Record for “Largest Gathering of Zombies” (yes such a thing exists).
Elsewhere, the Manchester, UK-based organization Zombie-Aid raised thousands of dollars for cancer patients during a 2009 zombie walk. The group has since announced plans for future walks and events throughout the United Kingdom and the United States. And in Utah, this year’s “Night of the Running Dead” 5K race will pit runners dressed as zombies against those dressed, well, normal, with all of the proceeds benefiting a local cancer foundation.
It may not be your typical charity event, but then again, Halloween isn’t exactly your typical holiday, either. What do you think? Are zombie walks a creepily clever way to gain new participants for worthy causes or just plain creepy?