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Not your typical Valentine's Day
The day of love turns into the day of the dead when dozens of zombie-clad citizens stagger through the streets of Eugene
By: Mark Noack | Freelance reporter |
Valentine's Day, the holiday for love, lust and... zombies. That's right, of all the days of the year, the undead of Eugene chose Valentine's Day to once again roam the earth.
Whether the zombies were suffering from supernatural heartbreak, were beckoned back from the dead by lovelorn souls, or were just plain necrophiliacs, was not really clear. But nonetheless it was a very popular night to be dead.
8:00 p.m. - More than 80 zombies (or rather, the people who were dressed as zombies) in varied states of semi-animated life congregated at Pioneer Cemetery, their eyes sunken, overwhelmed by their lust for flesh.
A few jugs of whiskey were being passed around, and many of the walking dead pulled out pocket flasks and beer bottles from their torn, blood-ridden cloths.
Apparently, all are equal among the dead. Zombies of all flavor came out that night: prom queens, soldiers, pregnant housewives, cheerleaders, surfers, goths, clowns and punks, to name a few. Everyone was splattered with at least a couple pints of what appeared to be blood, and then all joined the chorus of the zombie anthem:
"Brains..... brains... ugghhhhh..."
8:30 - The zombies were on the move, limping haltingly out of the graveyard and back to the living world.
Passing by the Knight Library, members of the mob spotted fresh meat inside, and the whole mob rushed to the windows. Pounding on the windows with flailing limbs, they were rewarded with some raised eyebrows from a lone man diligently reading inside. Little smears of blood dripped down the window after they left.
8:40 - After attacking the Pi Beta Phi sorority house and being shooed away by three women standing on the lawn, the undead mob continued on, stumbling haltingly onto Kincaid Street in search of delicious brains.
Finding none around the University, they were to settle instead for beer.
8:50 - Hobbling over to Taylor's Bar and Grille, the zombies entered, growling for booze. The bartender explained that it was still eight minutes until happy hour. All the zombies left immediately toward Max's.
Apparently, the dead are both impatient and penny-conscious.
9:00 - The undead mob wandered down E. 13th Ave. and a splinter group decided to enter the corner Starbucks franchise. Limping through the line to the barista, one zombie moaned for a mocha cappuccino "and a bran muufff-innnn....."
The manager approached zombie Courtney Anglin and asked her group to leave.
9:15 - A group of 12 zombies were drawn to the bright lights of Sacred Heart Medical Center's emergency room. Covered in blood and with puss-filled wounds, they hobbled in the entrance and through the waiting room. Shuffling past the confused patients while making zombie groans, they then calmly walked out the exit.
Ed Ingersoll, a hospital security guard, saw the undead crowd pass by.
"See that?" he said. "That looks like fun. Not your typical Valentine's Day crap."
9:30 - At Max's, only a handful of zombies could be found. Most, it seemed, went directly to Horsehead - the final destination on the zombie walk.
Recent University graduate Jody Trendler, who was dressed as a dead auto mechanic, sat drinking a beer at the bar while zombie prom queen Mira Horsky munched on her half-eaten hand.
The two women are bakers at Great Harvest Bread, and prepared a number of hands, arms, and other appendages shaped out of bread.
"I've done a Santa Claus pub crawl, but never anything like this," Trendler said.
10:00 - Moving on to Horsehead, it was clear from the street that the zombies had taken over the pub. Shoulder to shoulder, undead patrons crowded the bar, clawing fiendishly for the overwhelmed bartenders' attention.
At one of the tables sat Candee Cole, the director of Religious Education at Eugene's Unitarian Universalist Church, dressed as a zombie cook, soup ladle in hand.
"I was bitten by one of the many zombies who feast at Hometown Buffet," she said, squeezing a small rubber brain.
11:00 - Christopher Anglin, one of the organizers for the event, explained over not-his-first beer that there was no real significance to having a mass zombie rally on Valentine's Day. It was all a coincidence, he said.
"We just picked Valentine's day so we could have some fun." he said. "It's the last day you'd expect to see zombies."
Anglin took a sip of his beer and a stream of blood from the side of his mouth dripped into his drink.
He said that friends of his organized a similar zombie walk last year, alongside a daytime zombie event on Easter.
"That was so that people could bring their families and kids," said Anglin.
The local zombies who carved a swath of bloody, drunken carnage through town organized largely through the Internet and newspapers. MySpace and Craigslist provided a forum for area flesh-eating enthusiasts to meet and plan gatherings. Many zombies told the Emerald that they'd heard of the walk from a short piece in the Eugene Weekly newspaper.
For the living-dead, or their sympathizers who weren't aware of Wednesday's walk, the MySpace group "drunkenzombies" is a quick ticket to meeting like-minded folks.
Several became involved in the zombie walk through local kickball leagues. Players of the gym-class staple, organized locally through the NorthWest Association of Adult Competitive Kickball (NWAACK), can meet Sundays at 2 p.m. at a field at W. 20th Ave. and Washington St. The kickballers have an alliance with several of Eugene's zombies, and, if contacted, may be able to provide contacts within the zombie community.
DATE WITH THE DEAD
"There are a lot of people in and out of relationships that have zombie-like characteristics either from not appreciating what they have, wanting what they can't have or just not being satisfied with themselves." So says 26-year-old nursing student Christopher Anglin, founder of Eugene's St. Valentine's Day Zombie Walk.
Although Zombie Walk flesh mobs occur around the world on various dates (see www.zombiewalk.com),Anglin thinks Valentine's Day is the perfect "Hallmark Holiday" to infect with humorous necropsy...>..>..>..>
"I actually met my fianc..e at a previous zombie walk so it works great as a dating tool. Zombies are HOT," Anglin says. "There will be couples and singles and they will all be wonderfully bloody. I'm personally not looking to make any deep statements about relationships with this event. I just wanna have some fun."
Anglin says the Zombie Walk isn't a political statement or a reason to misbehave. "Anyone that wants an excuse to riot or get drunk and harass people is not at all welcome."
At last year's inaugural Zombie Walk, Anglin and his mob of decrepit faux-flesh-eating souls gathered at the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery, startling unsuspecting citizens. "Every now and then a couple would stroll through holding hands," he says. "We would see them coming and all hide in different directions, then as they passed by, they would have some 20 zombies creeping out of nowhere towards them. Funny stuff." The unsightly mob then shambled into town, occupied various bars, then visited the Sacred Heart ER, much to the delight of the ER staff. He advises participants not to bite anyone for real, especially the police.
Anglin, who admits he has an unnatural obsession for zombie films, says he was inspired to create a Eugene Zombie Walk after reading The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. "I'm pretty sure the idea came to be after few beers also."
"Why Valentine's Day? Being single at the time and having a lot of friends that were either single or disinterested in the chocolate and flowers celebration, it seemed appropriate. It's fun to give people a shock. To see people forcing a nervous smile or laugh when they see the living dead approaching them. You know there has to be that one short moment when they're questioning whether or not this is the real thing. This really does scare some people. There was an incident in Vancouver, B.C., I believe, where a motorist tried to run some zombies down in his car."
Anglin says costumes and masks are unnecessary. "Zombies are just the average Joe that has become undead." The emphasis is on appearing like you've been dead for a while, and lots of blood. "If you have any extra body parts to carry around and chew on, even better." The second annual St. Valentine's Day Zombie Walk begins at 8 pm Wednesday, Feb. 14 at Pioneer Cemetery (18th & University). — John Dooley
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