Halloween, at least locally, falls into two categories: kids storming porches for candy (a tradition that seems to be falling by the wayside if my house is an indication – for the past five years, the number of children ringing the bell has fallen dramatically. Last year, we were lucky to get 10) and drunken adults – women wearing slutty costumes and the dudes throwing something together, usually pop-culture-y and purchased at stores like The Spirit of Halloween at the last second in hopes that the combination of trashy costumes and drinking will lead to sex.
I can’t help but think that adults have ruined Halloween by insisting that they too should be involved. Not in creating their own adult traditions, but by acting like horny toddlers. Boomers and your lust for commercialization, I lay this at your feet.
In a recent NYTimes article, “Nicholas Rogers, the author of Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, says that even as far back as the 1920s, Halloween included an element of “courtship and sexual play.” It was all relatively tame, however, until the 1980s, when gay men started taking the occasion to let their freak flag fly. Huge street celebrations like the parade in Greenwich Village were appropriated by the mainstream, and by retailers.”
So. it’s nice to see a new-ish non commercial tradition finding hold locally – one that is the anti-thesis of dressing up like a hooker/nurse and drinking Miller Light at a bar . That’s right – On October 22 this year – Oil City is having a Zombie Walk.
When Organizer Tabby Shaw heard that Oil City’s popular Pumpkin Bumpkin Fest had been canceled for 2010, she did what most people don’t; she stepped up to the plate and provided an alternative. “I thought to myself how unfair that was to the teens and young at heart adults in the area…I sat down and thought how neat it would be to bring a zombie walk to OC!”
Tabby Shaw, 2010 Oil City Zombie Walk Organizer
The first "Zombie Walk" was held in October 2003, in Toronto, Ontario. From there, the tradition spread pretty rapidly in tandem with the overall societal interest in zombies, spurred by movies like 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead, and of course, George Romero’s oeuvre. It’s only (super) natural then, that Pittsburgh, where Night of the Living Dead was filmed would be an epicenter for Zombie Walks.
The Pittsburgh walk is now part of The It's Alive Show's World Zombie Day, a world hunger charity event. Shaw, too, has added a charity aspect to the walk, with each zombie been asked to bring one non-perishable food item to Justus Park before the walk.
But nothing is easy, especially in Venango County. Oil City has had a difficult time relating to Halloween in the past decade or so. After the brutal rape and murder of a local girl abducted on her way home from a Halloween Party, the city banned trick or treating for 15 years, until 2008. Additionally, the area is heavily skewed toward religious conservatism, many who see Halloween as intrinsically evil. And, not unexpectedly, Shaw has run into opposition from these groups, but continues to reiterate, that the Walk is all in good fun, “We are getting frowned upon by several churches, and elders who believe that same thing.” Shaw said, adding, “Honestly...what harm is a few globs of makeup and a spurt of fake blood?”
The 2010 Oil City Zombie Walk is free and Open to the Public. The Walk starts in Justus Park, at 6pm sharp to take a group photo. The walk is drug, alcohol, and violence free.
The walk will begin in the park, crossing onto veterans bridge walking across the the bridge, crossing the road to go to the other side of the bridge and back down to Seneca street. Up to Duncomb street...and finally ending in the Austin Ink parking lot.