Zombies invade Lawrence for charity


Chad Phillips

Zombies walk along Massachusetts as part of the Zombie Walk on Oct. 20 in downtown Lawrence. Image by Chad Phillips.

Story by Riley Swickard, Writer

As the sun began to set Thursday evening, an unusual throng of undead participants gathered in the middle of Lawrence’s South Park. The 10th Annual Zombie Walk activities drew hundreds of Douglas County participants and spectators, including some Baker students.

People of all ages – and zombie makeup jobs – were welcomed to watch or join the walk for free. The charity event also featured local food trucks, photo shoots, contests, T-shirts and even pools of fake blood to get messy in. The zombie ensemble began to stroll, limp and stagger through downtown Lawrence at sundown.

The Lawrence Humane Society hosts the Zombie Walk to benefit lost, abused and homeless animals in the community. For some of Baker’s own students and staff, however, the Zombie Walk is an attraction for reasons other than just helping animals.

Instructor of English Robert Howard and his wife are “major horror fans” who have made it a tradition to participate in the annual walk. In the past, they have dressed up and pulled their “wagon of zombie babies.”

“I guess what got us interested was that we love horror movies and everything,” Howard said. “So when we found out about this opportunity to dress like creatures from a horror movie, in large, what more could you ask for?”

Howard also mentioned that zombie movies interest him as the smartest genre of horror films because of the manner in which they reveal social criticism.

Unfortunately, Howard and his wife were unable to participate this year due to an illness, but other BU professors promoted the Zombie Walk to their classes.

Professor of Sociology Tim Buzzell regularly attends the Zombie Walk and watched this year’s event from a restaurant on Massachusetts Street along with students from his current class for Religion, Ritual and Belief.

“I think it is important for my students to see the Zombie Walk as a way of understanding a culture’s social anxieties,” Buzzell said. As examples, he mentioned zombies “as Trumps and Clintons since people are distressed about the election, or some zombie clowns because that has gotten to be a big thing the last two months.”

For Buzzell, the Zombie Walk was a timely and relevant way to study zombies as pop culture symbols. Buzzell’s colleague, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Nicholaus Pumphrey, who teaches a Quest course that discusses monsters and religion, also encouraged his students to attend.

One of the students who attended, freshman Nico Kenney, understood the impact pop culture has had on the Zombie Walk.

“We [went] to see what kind of religious symbols people were wearing in their zombie costume,” Kenney said. “So when people think ‘zombies’ they’re obviously going to think of TV shows and they’re going to try and match that. Then there are some who actually research zombies and know what they’re like, and they’re going to technically, I believe, have more religious symbols than what pop culture would have [in costumes].”

Junior Whitney Silkey goes to the Zombie Walk with her family every year as a tradition, joking that it is the family’s favorite holiday.

“The costumes that stood out this year were the Simpsons, zombie doctors and always the cute little baby zombies,” Silkey said. “There were a few clowns this year, which I enjoyed because of the recent events around the country.”

While the Lawrence Zombie Walk may be a charity event for animals, it also has educational and festive significance for some Baker students and staff.