Nearly 300 zombies turned up for this year’s Hazel Park Zombie Walk Oct. 27 — a dip from past years due to the cold and windy weather. Nearly 1,000 canned goods were donated to support Landmark Community Church’s food pantry. The contests were made possible with prize donations from the following business sponsors:
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HAZEL PARK — When Tommy Ray, 11, and Bobby Ray, 8, showed up at the annual Hazel Park Zombie Walk Oct. 27, they were ready.
The Ray brothers were there as “survivors,” suited up in football helmets, safety goggles, gas masks and gloves. Tommy even wore a superhero cape.
Nothing was going to chew through them.
“I’m wearing a gas mask to block out the zombie stink,” explained Bobby, his voice muffled, “and I’m wearing goggles to block out the zombie guts when I destroy them!”
Luckily for the zombies, the Hazel Park siblings didn’t go ballistic. Maybe it was because the zombies were unusually friendly, bringing loads of canned goods to restock the food pantry at Landmark Community Church.
Arranged by Park City Entertainment, the brainchild of Hazel Park residents and best buds Jonas Grabill and Mikel McClellan, the Zombie Walk is a visual spectacle that has become a Halloween tradition in Hazel Park. This is its fourth year.
Hundreds turned out for the event, despite freezing temperatures and the fact the Tigers would soon be playing Game 3 of the World Series.
“We’re able to start stuff like this because the city will let it happen,” said McClellan. “We have the mayor and City Council standing down there, and they let it happen because they love this stuff. Zombies are running through their town tonight and they’re not chasing them. They’re just letting them go!”
“I’m just amazed they come out here in this weather,” said Jack Lloyd, the mayor of Hazel Park. “Some are dressed like it’s summertime, but they’re creative in what they’re doing, like they’re makeup artists. Some look really hurt with their blood and cuts and stitches, but they’re smiling.”
A gaping hole where an eye should’ve been; flayed skin and oozing gashes; the flesh on one girl’s face peeled back with a literal zipper — it seems not a single zombie managed to die in one piece before coming back from the grave.
Nikole Hill was there as a “baker zombie” with a blood-stained apron, a whisk clipped to her waist, and a rolling pin in hand. It’s not too grisly, until you notice the butcher knife lodged in the side of her skull.
“I’ve been eating too many sweets, so my teeth are rotten,” Hill said, flashing a fang-filled smile. “I actually want to be a baker and open a bakery, so I thought this would be a fun idea. This event brings people together to do good things for the community, rather than just showing up for a Halloween party. There’s more meaning to it.”
The walk began at 7 p.m. with the usual rallying cry on the steps of City Hall at the corner of Nine Mile and John R:
“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”
Then they took off, north on John R to Woodward Heights before crossing to the west side of John R and heading south to Nine Mile and back over to City Hall.
The goal was to bewilder unsuspecting bystanders, like shoppers loading groceries in the parking lot at Kroger. This year, however, a couple zombies sped out of Kroger in shopping carts and joined the undead masses instead.
Grabill offered the zombies some safety tips before they began their walk.
“Stay out of the road,” he said. “If you get hit by a car, we won’t know if you’re faking it or not.”
The zombies were led by “brain bait,” a severed head dangling from a stick. Once they returned to City Hall, prizes were raffled off from local business sponsors, and several zombies were handpicked for the Best Child Zombie and Best Adult Zombie.
One of the latter contestants was a tall fellow who couldn’t stop chewing on the brain bait dangling next to him.
The contests were determined by whoever received the most noise from the audience. For the adult zombies, it came down to last year’s winner, Lacey Scott, 24, of Ferndale, and newcomer Nicole Hutton, 22, of Hazel Park.
This year, Scott was a blood-splattered ballerina in a frilly pink tutu and ballet flats, half of her face torn apart with convincing makeup effects. Most striking of all were her hands: they were completely black and had long, tapering fingers she said were inspired by the witch from the videogame “Left 4 Dead.” Last year she was a nurse.
Hutton was a pregnant zombie, with a papier-mâché belly beneath a hospital gown. She had turned a baby doll into a zombie baby, which stuck its head out of her burst stomach as she walked around carrying an IV pole with a blood pouch.
Like Scott, Hutton’s jaw was blown away to expose teeth, and she wore special contacts to turn her pupils into demonic pinpricks.
It was a close call, but Hutton generated the most noise from the crowd, winning this year’s contest.
Everyone seemed to be in good spirits, even if 2012 is supposed to be the year the world ends.
“If you look around, it already looks like the world has ended, so I don’t know how much worse it can get,” Scott said. “It’s not so bad. We have ‘Thriller’ playing and we’re getting down. The Mayans got it all wrong. They really meant to say 2012 was the year to boogey.”