For the last two years, Somerset’s Zombie Walk has proven to be a “Thriller” for local enthusiasts of the creepy and kooky.
Good news, fans: The celebration of the undead lives on this weekend.
The third-annual Zombie Walk Weekend will be held in downtown Somerset on Saturday, and organizers have scared up a horde of vendors, entertainment acts, and fun activities for all ages.
“This year’s Zombie Walk has gotten really big,” said organizer Wynona Padgett, of Clear Channel-Lake Cumberland, before quipping, “It’s going to be a zombie apocalypse.”
The event has steadily grown in popularity — last year, approximately 2,000 people took part, helping kick off the Halloween season.
This year, Padgett expects those numbers could grow even greater — around 500 people have already RSVP’ed to the event’s Facebook site.
Padgett attests the popularity of zombies to screen hits like the television show “The Walking Dead” and movies like the classic “Night of the Living Dead” and last summer’s blockbuster “World War Z.”
“It’s just something people enjoy,” she said. “Zombies are not demonic. They’re not real. People look at them as something funny. There are as many funny zombie movies, like ‘Shaun of the Dead,’ as there are scary ones. When I watched them as a girl, they scared me to death, but now it’s comical.”
It can also be educational. Padgett noted a “political state-ment” compon-ent to the zombie phen-omenon — understanding the ways gover-nments and societies react to quickly-spread-ing health thr-eats. The Cent-ers for Disease Control and Prevention have even dealt with the subject of a zombie outbreak in offering info-rmation to the American public — even though actual zombies are just a work of fiction, the ways in which they’re created (say, radioactive fallout or an uncontrolled virus) have real-life implic-ations.
“Anytime you think of a pandemic hitting the country, you think of (zombie movies),” said Padgett. “That’s why people always say, ‘I’m prepared for the zombie apocalypse because I have this and this and this.’”
The event appeals to people of all ages, Padgett noted. Last year, those who came dressed in zombie attire and face paint ranged from little infant zombies in strollers to at least one great-grand-mother.
Plus, “teenagers really like it,” said Padgett. “Sometimes it’s tough getting teens to dress up for events or be part of the crowd, and this is something they will do.”
Among the activities at this Saturday’s Zombie Walk Weekend:
• Padgett said that 54 vendors will be on hand, selling food, jewelry, purses, candles, and all manner of goods. Non-profit organizations will be among them too, working for good causes around the area. Vendors will be open on the judicial center plaza and adjacent parking areas from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
• Registration for the zombie motorcycle ride will start at 10 a.m. and the ride will begin at 11 a.m. The Somerset Junior Woman’s Club is sponsoring the ride to benefit the Lake Cumberland Children’s Advocacy Center.
Additionally, the Children’s Advo-cacy Center will receive fundraising from the former Science Hill Haunted House group’s make-up tent, where zombie fans can get their mugs painted up like their favorite ghouls.
• Four local bands — OneWay, Vagabond Blue, THEM, and Medusa Childe — will be performing starting at 3:45 p.m.
• At 3 p.m. is a dance class in the popular Michael Jackson “Thril-ler” routine from his 1980s music video hit. If you miss it, there will be a refresher at 8:15, and the “Thriller” dance at 8:20 at the judicial plaza for anyone who wants to join in. Britani Shoemaker of Pep and Pizzazz will be holding the instructional sess-ion.
It’s not just the parents who know “Thriller” — Padgett noted that it’s even popular with kids too, thanks to exposure to the classic tune in Wii video games.
• Blood donations may be made at the Kentucky Blood Mobile on the square in front of the Prather Law Offices from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
• Particip-ants are urged to bring cans of non-perishable food items for God’s Food Pantry. “We’re saying that if there’s a zom-bie apocal-ypse, we’ll need that food anyway,” lau-ghed Padgett.
• A Zombie Fun Run beg-ins at 5 p.m., with regist-ration starting at 4 p.m. at the entrance to the Rocky Hollow rec-reation center.
Padgett noted that the fun run will involve zombies chasing participants. The runners will have three scarves that represent their “lives.” Each time one is touched by a zombie, one “loses” a life. One must have at least one life remaining when crossing the finish line to be eligible for prizes.
• The Pulaski County High School Dance Team will have an exhibition at 6:15 p.m. and Southwestern’s team joins Pep and Pizzazz dancers for a presentation at 8 p.m.
• For most of the event, only South Maple Street will be closed, from East Mt. Vernon to the intersection with Market Street.
The actual “zombie walk” — where participants get to stagger down the street like they’re the undead wandering around in search of brains, just like in the movies — begins at 8:30 p.m. The circle around the fountain square will be closed at this time, as well as East Mt. Vernon Street up to College Street.
“Use caution when traveling in that area, because there will be lots of kids and lots of people walking,” said Padgett.
• At 9:30 p.m., there will be a costume contest, to award those most festively (and frighteningly) dressed, and at 10 p.m., a free outdoor movie will begin — the exact one hasn’t been chosen yet, but rest assured it will have a decidedly zombiefied theme.
All events are free; the only charges would be from individual vendors, noted Padgett.