As toddlers often have a loose grasp on the mechanics of walking, they sometimes lurch or shamble. So we thought it was appropriate to bring Sprout on his first Zombie Walk this past weekend.
A Zombie Walk is pretty much what it says – loads of people dress as zombies and then shamble along a route. Moaning, saying “Braasinnns,”and/or gently teasing bystanders is highly encouraged. A town near us has been hosting a Zombie Walk for the past several years and they’re immense fun. Like the Renaissance Faire, they’re an opportunity to dress up and become something radically different for a little while. As someone who gets Very Concerned about Big Issues (and sometimes stupid little ones), the idea of playing something totally brainless has a certain appeal. Unlike most zombie movies, Zombie Walks (or at least the Silver Spring one) aren’t meant to be scary at all. Instead, they wholeheartedly embrace the camp aspect of zombies, recognizing that often the zombies in movies are more interesting and sometimes more sympathetic than the protagonists.
Before heading out, we zombified ourselves. In the past, I’ve actually gone as a specific type of character – I was an activist zombie one year, decked out in as many buttons as I could find and holding a placard saying Occupy Graveyard. This year, I wanted do a family theme. While there are some very clever (and gross) costumes people have created with baby carriers, our inward facing Ergo-Baby doesn’t quite have the same Evil Fetus costume potential. Plus, Sprout’s too big for it now. Instead, I wanted to do an idealized 1950s zombie family. I put on my purple button-down retro-style dress for myself, so I had my part down. While they weren’t exactly period-appropriate, we dressed Sprout in his skeleton pajamas so he could fall asleep in the car on the way home. Unfortunately, Chris didn’t want to fuss with a suit. He did put on a button-down shirt, but it wasn’t quite the effect I was going for.
For the makeup, we used gray water-based make-up on Sprout. The application process wasn’t all that different from putting sunscreen on him, which he’s used to, even if he doesn’t like it. Chris and I both used oil-based makeup to provide more color, and I dripped fake blood around my mouth. (I used corn syrup and red food coloring, which is less drippy, cheaper, and easier to wash out than the store-bought stuff.) Unfortunately, our makeup ended up barely visible in the poorly-lit street. Afterwards, Chris commented, “Our faces just look dirty.” I guess we needed more green and less gray.
Arriving at the starting point, we found a broad array of interpretations of the theme. A zombie family with everyone dressed in wedding gear celebrated the mom and dad’s real-life anniversary. The dad was holding a sign saying “To have and to hold in life and undeath.” Zombie 1 and Zombie 2 were the undead versions of Thing 1 and Thing 2, holding the decapitated head of the Cat in the Hat. The prince’s kiss seemed to wake up Zombie Snow White, despite the fact that she was actually dead. Zombie Sharknados got props for a clever costume idea in general, but points off for it clearly just being their Halloween costume with zombie makeup. Zombie Elvis was decked out in sequins, strumming a guitar, and singing versions of the classics tweaked appropriately for the audience. There were even a few folks facing the invading hoard with panache – Shaun from his eponymous movie was there, as was a church lady of the Dana Carvey sort with a Repent Zombies! placard.
We didn’t quite match up, but our one saving grace was having the darn cutest zombie on the walk. While there were a number of other kids there, and even a few around the same age, none of them were quite as prominent. We hauled Sprout up on Chris’s shoulders so he could see everything and be seen. As we walked, bystanders gave numerous, “Look at the baby zombie!” and “He’s so cute!” We even had a number of people take photos. While I’m not fond of strangers taking photos of my child, it’s inevitable if you participate in an event like this.
For his part, Sprout seemed to enjoy it. Most of the time, he had his “I’m taking it all in” expression on his face. I think he especially liked being up on Chris’s shoulders and seeing everything. The only problem was that he kept sticking his finger in Chris’s ear! We joked that he was trying to dig for tasty daddy brains.
I had a couple people I told about the walk ask if Sprout was scared; I can definitely say he wasn’t. While he gets startled easily, he isn’t old enough to understand why this would be scary. I think he just interpreted this as “another weird thing mom and dad are doing,” along with all of the other weird things we do. Heck, it’s not that much weirder than Disney, which has a giant mechanical bear singing about murder on one of their classic rides. As he gets older, I suspect we’ll take a couple years off between when he’s old enough to understand the concept of zombies but too young to appreciate their camp aspect.
To sum it up, my kid has been to some weird events. But with parents like his, weirdness is inevitable.