HAZEL PARK — To tweak a line from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail:”
“Bring out your dead — and your cans!”
That’s the Hazel Park Zombie Walk in a nutshell.
Now in its fifth year, the event attracts hundreds of zombies — from the freshly dead to the old and moldy. They will meet in front of Hazel Park City Hall, 111 E. Nine Mile, from 6-6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26. The walk begins around 7 p.m.
Each zombie is asked to bring three or more canned goods. All of the donations will help stock the food pantry at Landmark Community Church, feeding the needy.
Last year’s walk drew more than 500 zombies and raised a whopping two tons of nonperishable food.
Mikel McClellan, of Hazel Park, who founded the event with his friend Jonas Grabill through their company Park City Entertainment, said it’s always an unforgettable night.
“That amount of zombies in such a small area — it’s interesting,” McClellan said.
The prewalk gathering in front of City Hall boggles the mind with the number of cadavers per capita. The eccentrics are encouraged to stay in character all night.
Those who are still alive and can’t afford an undead disguise can simply come in old tattered clothes, and Park City Entertainment will “zombify” them with free makeup, blood and gore — no infection necessary.
Of course, one can also come as a survivor, decked out in Army fatigues, a gas mask or whatever’s handy.
The walk itself is a mile round-trip, same as last year: North on John R to Woodward Heights, then over to John R’s west side before heading south to Nine Mile and crossing back over to City Hall.
The ghastly procession is typically led by “brain bait” dangling from a stick at the front of the pack and is always sure to elicit bewildered stares from unsuspecting drivers.
Brandon Mylenek, of Hazel Park, a friend of McClellan and Grabill who’s helping to organize this year’s walk, said they want families to get in on the action.
“I have a kid, a first-grader, who wants to dress as a zombie and cause some havoc,” Mylenek said. “Our goal is to make Hazel Park a sort of ‘Halloween Town.’”
He encourages the zombies to check out Hazel Park’s House of Fear, a haunted house fundraiser for the local animal shelter and Hazel Park Promise Zone, right after the walk ends around 8 p.m. The haunted house, 620 W. Woodward Heights (Nine 1/2 Mile), is open from 7-11 p.m. each weekend in October. Admission is $10 per person.
“We can scare those doing the scaring!” Mylenek said.
When the Zombie Walk originally started in 2009, there were only about 60 zombies who showed up. It’s grown by leaps and bounds ever since.
“The first year, it was raining, the wind was blowing, but we showed up anyways,” McClellan said. “And then the next year, it jumped to around 300 people. The past several years, it’s been north of 500. And we raised so much food last year, you couldn’t even walk up the stairs at City Hall. It was ridiculous!”
This year, they hope to do it again. Park City Entertainment is also open to working with any school or city groups that want to get involved.
“We’ve had such a positive response. There have been zero issues, knock on wood. It’s absolutely safe for all ages,” McClellan said. “It just blows my mind: It wasn’t intended to be this big, but now it practically runs itself. It’s a staple for the community.”
Mylenek added: “The mayor shakes our hand every year. They (City Council) haven’t stopped us yet! It’s a great excuse for everyone to dress up and have some fun. Or you can come and watch. Last year was nuts — hopefully, we can top it this year.”
The 5th Annual Hazel Park Zombie Walk will meet at Hazel Park City Hall, 111 E. Nine Mile, from 6-6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26. The walk begins at 7 p.m. Bring three cans or more to donate. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/hpzombiewalk.