By: Alexander J. Curley –
Toronto City Hall was besieged by the undead on Saturday as a multitude of corpses congregated for the 10th annual Toronto Zombie Walk.
This year marks the first major sponsorship of the Walk by the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Due to Heart and Stroke’s generous donations, the event was able to be moved from Trinity Bellwoods Park, the traditional home of the Walk, to Nathan Philips Square, providing more room and exposure for the event.
The opening ceremonies featured a special performance by Skin Tight Outta Sight and Great Canadian Burlesque to celebrate Zombie Walk’s 10th anniversary. Afterwards the Walk’s Grand Marshals Russ Streiner and John Russo from Night of the Living Dead, judged the annual costume competition for best zombie.
The walk began at 3pm beginning it’s 5km route along Queen and University. It continued along Younge, making a circuit back along Queen to Nathan Philips Square.
Zombies who returned were given free passes to The Undeadening, a planned Heart and Stroke event at Canada’s Wonderland, which is attempting to break the Guinness World Record for most people being trained in CPR at one time on October 25th.
After the Walk, a live concert was held featuring Toronto’s Cadillacs and Cadavers and Montreal’s The Brains. The psychobilly movement, mixing the vintage 50’s rock and roll with punk rock, horror and science fiction, has always heavily influenced the Walk.
Numerous vendors and affiliated events manned stalls throughout the square, including; Power House of Terror, Night of the Living Dead Live, The Beguiling and many zombie themed prop, costume and makeup shops. This was the first time the Zombie Walk featured so many vendors, perhaps diminishing the “DIY” spirit that pervaded previous years.
The tradition started on a gloomy Sunday in October of 2003, with a small group of horror enthusiasts in Toronto’s west end. The event has returned every year since with the zombie horde growing annually. Toronto has spread the zombie plague to New York, Vancouver, Ottawa, Melbourne and numerous other cities around the globe. In 2006, the After Dark Film Festival joined forces with the Zombie Walk to provide movie screenings for the undead masses.
The Walk has grown to become one of the most photographed events in Toronto, attracting amateur and professional photogs with its grisly displays.
The Walk drew thousands of horror fans of all ages. Steadfast supporters of the Walk were out in droves, trying to outdo each other in the mastery of their costumes and makeup. Whole families came dressed in paint and blood to enjoy the spectacle. Many beloved cultural icons made appearances in states of decay from Marilyn Monroe to a zombified Lego person.
Many costumes attempted to achieve a state of balance between horror and irony, such as the best costume winning, XL Foods Zombie Grinder featuring a zombie food inspector sticking out of a giant meat grinder in parody of the recent XL Foods beef recall.
The Walk also drew the ire of several Syrian protestors gathered outside of Old City Hall to raise awareness of the Syrian Civil War, with one protestor proclaiming, “This is our Halloween!” while showing pictures of loved ones who have been killed in the conflict. The protest was made all the more surreal as people in zombie motley walked past unsure of what is happening.
This year’s Zombie Walk was one to remember and makes one wonder how it will mutate in the future.
All Photos By Alexander J. Curley.