Zombies strike downtown Riverside

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Images by Michael Isberto

Michael Isberto | Staff Writer

October 30, 2014

The streets downtown were filled with zombies, ghosts and skeletons, but it wasn’t a scene from a scary movie set: it was the fourth annual Riverside Zombie Crawl.

People who happened to be walking around the Main Street Civic Plaza in Riverside for the crawl might have thought they had stepped into an apocalypse on Oct. 18.

“It’s a lot of fun, it’s just a great way to meet new people, and a great way to start the Halloween celebrations,” said Neal Andres, a Zombie Crawl walker.

The Riverside Downtown Partnership planned the crawl to bring the community together.

“We started the Riverside Zombie Crawl in 2011 to extend the Halloween season in downtown Riverside,” said Robbie Silver, communications and events liaison for the partnership. “RDP hosts several events throughout the year to bring individuals and families to the downtown area. Many Riversiders have lived in the area for years and haven’t experienced what downtown has to offer.”

The event was full of Halloween games and activities for the whole family including a live DJ playing Halloween themed music, crafts for children provided by Dragon Marsh, face painters and balloon artists.

Additionally, there were zombie carnival games, costume contests for different age groups and the main event was a parade on Main Street where attendees could show off their costumes.

“Events like the Riverside Zombie Crawl highlight downtown Riverside as a unique destination,” Silver said. “Our attendance has increased every year. We had about 900-1,000 attendees this year.”

The theme of the event was zombies vs. survivalists. Most of the people in the crowd chose to be a zombie, but whether they chose to be a zombie or a survivalist, anyone could participate in the zombie apocalypse survival training.

“This year we built a zombie carnival with games,” Silver said. “Some games included ring toss, target practice darts, eye in the socket bucket toss, fishing for limbs and a photo booth. There was also a weapons board that showcased unique survivalist weapons during a zombie apocalypse.”

The theme helped to diversify the costumes shown at the event. Although there were a handful of people who wanted to be on the survivalist side, most participants were made up and many of the attendees had white face paint and blood around their mouths.

“It’s not every day you get to walk around the city dressed like this,” Andres said. “We’re all excited for the holiday season. My friends and I always look forward to the holidays because we know there are plenty of activities happening in the area. It’s a great time dressing up, and I already can’t wait till the next event, whatever that may be.”

The reactions on the faces in the crowd made it evident that the event itself was a success.

“I’m a huge ‘Walking Dead’ fan,” said Mabelle Canlas, Riverside Zombie attendee. “This is probably really weird, but I always root for the zombies. So if I had to choose a side, I’d rather be on their side: and plus, I think it would be fun chasing around Rick Grimes. He’s the main character in the ‘Walking Dead.’ I love him.”

Events like the Riverside Zombie Crawl show how unique the city of Riverside can be, according to Silver.

The spirit of Halloween isn’t dead in Riverside. People from all walks of life, young and old, were celebrating the upcoming holiday together.

“People in the community are always looking for something they can be involved with,” said Thomas Moore, a zombie crawler, “and if you give them events like this one, the city will be better for it.”