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Largest (Unofficial) Zombie Walk Takes Place In Grand Rapids

Rob Bliss created a monster.

Actually, close to 4,000, by his estimate.

The 20-year-old Grand Rapids Community College student issued a challenge to the city: Bring out your dead!

And so the zombies came.

Grand Rapids' first-ever Zombie Walk had become the talk of the town by the time Thursday night rolled around, but not even Bliss, the event's coordinator, expected the turnout he got.

"It's on a scale so large, I can't explain it," he said, looking over the sea of people in zombie garb who had crowded into Rosa Parks Circle. "It heavily exceeded my expectations."

People came in high spirits, eager for a night of free entertainment and hungry for braaaaains.

Amanda Hodges and Meg Knoph, both 21, attended the Zombie Walk because they heard about it on the Facebook social network. Both women also attended a downtown pillow fight organized by Bliss last month.

"It's cool that the whole community could come and do something like this," said Hodges, of Grand Rapids, who was dressed as a zombie Santa Claus, inspired by a movie she had seen.

"I was on my way to the symphony, but I got attacked by a zombie," joked zombie Jim, 40, of Grand Rapids, who declined to give his last name.

In tribute to zombie classic "Night of the Living Dead," Jim carried a sign that read "We're coming to get you, Barbara."

The predominantly young crowd found countless variations on the zombie theme for costumes. There were undead pirates, a zombie Abraham Lincoln, several bride-and-groom couples, even a zombie tuba player.

After an introduction by Bliss and a few minutes of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" (obviously), the undead crowd shuffled its way out of Rosa Parks Circle, up Pearl Street and slowly made its way along Ionia Avenue and toward The B.O.B., 20 Monroe Ave. SW, where an after-party awaited.

Grand Rapids Police Lt. Jim Baumgart said his department received some calls about disruptions to traffic.

"We had motorists that were trapped," he said. "We could see it on our cameras."

Baumgart said the permit granted for the walk required participants to stay on the sidewalk.

Because so many people showed up, that became difficult. Along busier streets, such as Monroe Avenue and Fulton Street, walkers mostly stuck to the sidewalk, but zombies spilled into the street during a stretch of the walk along Ionia Avenue.


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