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Denver zombies take aim at world record

If things go as planned, the largest zombie gathering in history will take place in downtown Denver on Saturday, Oct. 19 when some 16,000-plus blood splattered crazies drag themselves down the 16th Street Mall in a day-long event that can be as funny as it is horrifying.

The Annual Denver Zombie Crawl has already been documented as the largest zombie event in the nation, and for this – the 7th annual crawl – the organizers are again shooting for a new Guinness World Record.  Why is Denver home to so many zombies?  Why not?  Colorado already has the Frozen Dead Guy Festival, so why not a festival of 16,000 undead strolling the streets.

The day begins at 11 a.m. with the Organ Trail.  This zombified version of a 5K event is a run, walk or crawl around downtown Denver that mixes the gross parts of Fear Factor with the clue solving of the Amazing Race, and puts them all together in a Haunted House.  Zombie teams solve clues to find locations and move to checkpoints, and it’s all very complicated, but the main attraction is seeing the creativity of the other zombies.

And they are creative.  And horrifying.  There are bodies missing heads, bodies carrying their heads, and bodies with holes in their heads.  Many of the zombies are sexy. There are zombie cheerleaders, zombie nurses, zombie brides, zombie Playboy bunnies, and even a complete zombie marching brass band.  There is so much dripping blood that by day’s end, the 16th Street Mall is actually stained with pools of blood – all fake, of course – and you can mark the path of some zombies by their smeared trails.

Entire families of undead join the parade, all of them – from young tots to bewildered-looking parents — covered with horrific wounds, exposed entrails, axes in their heads, and always – the vacant stare of the undead.  The scariest thing of all are the hundreds of zombies who wear “dead-eye” contacts, giving them that strange, glowing, far-away look.

Zombie ground zero is Skyline Park, but really, the entire mile-long 16th Street Mall (and its 42 outdoor cafes) are crawling with zombies all afternoon.  If you come as a spectator, the most fun is to pick a spot in a café that lines the Mall and enjoy the parade of horror as it saunters by.

If you’re a zombie amateur and want to join in the parade, come at noon, where Zombie Crawl officials will help you with makeup.

There’s a re-creation of Michael Jackson’s zombie “Thriller” dance at 3:55 p.m., and the “official” parade down 16th Street Mall for the world record goes from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m., ending with costume contests at Skyline Park and a Zombie Crawl after-party at Casselman’s at 8 p.m.

Whether you come dead – or alive – you’ll laugh, you’ll be grossed out, you’ll be horrified and quite frequently scared, sometimes all within one minute, but you’ll come to appreciate the creativity that exists in Denver, at least in the underground world of the undead.

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