Downtown Denver became Halloween central as low moans, growls and shuffling feet replaced the usual hustle and bustle on Oct. 7 along the 16th Street Mall. Hordes of people attended Denver’s 12th Annual Zombie Crawl, decked out in their finest gore, blood, scars, gashes and peeling skin.
Designed as a way to kick off October and Halloween, the event attracts both horror and pop culture fans. Bloodied Harley Quinns, crippled Marios and decaying Pennywise clowns skulked alongside traditional zombies.
Makeup artist Sidney Marshall, dressed as a wounded nurse, said the crawl is a fun way to combine both worlds.
“I did the walk once before, two years ago. I still think zombies are part of the mainstream, but it’s cool to see them in a new light because they have been a thing for so long,” Marshall said. “It’s inspiring to see different people expressing their creativity.”
As a makeup artist she enjoys the costumes and said she likes to observe how others apply their gore.
A competitive costume contest kicked off the event late in the day. People even shuffled with arms raised in time to “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. Attendees had their makeup done at booths throughout the crawl.
“It’s a really inexpensive way to have fun,” Jeff Pitts said, dressed as zombie Fred Flintstone. “Plus, you get a little bit of exercise when you attend,” he said.
Pitts was there with his two daughters who attend MSU Denver and were dressed as noncharacter zombies. The familial element of the crawl was particularly important for him too.
“It’s pretty neat, it gives you something to do as a family,” Pitts said.
Parents pushed babies in strollers, chased their young ones down the street or just hung out with their teenagers.
While event attendance was strong and spirits were high, people did express concerns about turnout this year due to the Las Vegas shootings earlier in the week.
“I don’t think it’s played into it too much, but I do think it would have been a lot more crowded if that hadn’t happened,” attendee Scarlett Dobrovolsky said. “If there wasn’t that stigma of being in large crowds or around tall buildings, it might have been a little different.”
Despite signs prohibiting fake weapons, crawlers could still be seen walking around wielding plastic axes, swords and guns.
“I feel more comfortable if I can see people carrying the props and can tell they’re fake,” Dobrovolsky said. “It’s when people try and hide them that I start to wonder.”
In spite of the recent tragedy and concerns, people were out and about together, kicking off the Halloween season in style. Horror and pop culture fans alike found something to enjoy. From the novices who struggled to apply fake scabs to seasoned pros who easily passed as their characters, Dobrovolsky shared one cautionary warning for those wanting to dress up.
“Fake blood is very sticky,” she said with a laugh.