Bring Out Your Dead: Resurrecting the Nashville Zombie Walk. Part One: Digging Up the Bones
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I never really understood that until I took over the Nashville Zombie Walk. See, back in 2007 I took my family to our first zombie walk downtown along Riverfront Park and it was one of the best outings we’ve ever had. Dressed up like monsters we ran around Music Row freaking out tourists in cowboy hats to a sound track provided by the various street performers lining Broadway. It became an annual tradition for us as important as Halloween or Thanksgiving. We’d start planning out our costumes and our after walk dinner at home months in advance, inviting friends to come and celebrate in the weirdness and wonder with us.
Then, in 2015, it abruptly came to an end. No word from organizers and sponsors. No updates on social media. It simply vanished.
I was heartbroken. Being an evening shift drone for as long as my son had been alive, this had become our Halloween. I always had to work and never got the chance to take him Trick-or-Treating so it was our special day to dress up weird and run around town and it was suddenly and inexplicably gone. The next year was spent looking for answers, hounding sponsors and any organizers who still might be checking in on the site to try and find answers. I went to events held by the company that had apparently bought the rights to the zombie walk a few years back and asked organizers at booths advertising their other pending events when the walk would be. The answer was always the same:
“We’ll be making an announcement next week.”
I’m known in certain circles for having a bit of a temper and, after weeks and months of banal pleasantries, excuses, and outright rudeness, I lived up to that reputation. I wrote an article on my blog bashing the parent company that had bought the rights to the event as well as the other, larger events that it was actively sponsoring. I detailed the tradition that the Nashville Zombie Walk had become, not only for my family but for others as well and explained how I’d tried several times to find answers that just weren’t being offered. I tagged the events and blasted it on every social media platform where they were advertising, hoping to draw the ire of someone who might know what had happened.
I’m good at a few things, not the least of which being pissing people off and it took less than two hours for a dialogue to begin between myself and the director of a local anime convention attached the parent company that had killed the zombie walk. After the initial dialogue that comes from an organizer dealing with a vocal critic, an explanation formed. The zombie walk had been brought in to the fold with two other geek related events by this group of people who wanted to organize and have control over their own passions. After the 2014 walk, the organizers of the event had bailed, leaving people who didn’t understand it holding the bag. Underestimating the fan base (over 8,000 followers on social media alone) they hadn’t been able to find anyone who wanted to organize it and had let it fall by the wayside. That’s when something surprising happened. They offered for me to take over and organize the zombie walk.
See, now I had a problem. In my quest for answers I’d suddenly been made an offer that I couldn’t refuse. Literally. Before I’d made contact with anyone, the event had been killed by rumors of faceless conglomerates, secret cabals, and greedy sponsors. Now I’d been given an opportunity to resurrect it, to bring it back to life and make it better than ever before. If I said “no” I’d be on the hook, the man who could have fixed it but refused. Tacitly, any rejection on my part would have taken responsibility away from the people who were actually responsible for its demise and placed it squarely on me. With choices like those, I said “sure” and embarked on an odyssey that, as of right now, becomes more convoluted and strange with each passing day. I had no idea what a Herculean task it was to organize a zombie walk and now I’m doing it on my own.
If it were just the fans and fellow walkers, it might not be a big stress. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Each year the Nashville Zombie Walk collected substantially for the Second Harvest Food Bank. With over 8,000 online followers, between 1,000 to 3,000 of whom actually attend, that’s a hell of a lot of food collected for people in need and a tradition just as important and meaningful as any other created by the event. It’s the reason this event was started in the first place and it’s more important now than ever before that it continues. So, you know, no pressure on my part or anything.
Like I said, the road to Hell is paved in good intentions. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Dan Lee is a horror fiend and freelance writer with a special place in his heart for monster movies and demonic possession stories.