This week I (figuratively) sat down with Downtown Phoenix Partnership (DPP) team member R.J. Price and asked him about
SPM: What is Zombie Homecoming?
R.J. Price: This is the first year of the event. It’s designed to be a pre-event that kicks off the beginning of Zombie-Tober in downtown Phoenix. The event will include a makeup demonstration by Casey Boland (last year’s Zombie Queen), who will turn KUPD personality John Holmberg into a zombie, and the crowning of this year’s Zombie King & Queen, who will act as spokes-zombies for the event leading up to Oct. 26. The King & Queen will also assist Holmberg in leading the walk the night of the big event.
SPM: How many people show up dressed as zombies versus “victims?”
RJP: We had over 6,000 zombies in the walk last year and over 10,000 total attendees. We also see a lot of people who line the streets of Downtown to watch the procession. I guess you could say that those onlookers are setting themselves up to be victims.
SPM: How are the Zombie Homecoming King and Queen chosen? What role do they have in the walk?
RJP: They had to apply by submitting photos of themselves in zombie regalia and answering some questions that speak to their zombie values. There were 13 total questions and candidates will have to answer some of them during the coronation at Homecoming. A panel of five judges, along with the attendees at The Duce on October 4, will help decide who is ultimately crowned King & Queen.
SPM: Whom was Zombie Homecoming the brainchild of?
RJP: It’s funny that you say, “brains.” Sara Anderson, DPP events manager, as well as Jeff Lewis, who leads the Arizona Ghostbusters, first pitched the idea of a Zombie Homecoming. DPP and its partners recognized how strong Zombie Walk has become and felt there was an opportunity to make the whole month of October a celebration of Zombie Walk.
SPM: What kind of activities are there at Zombie Homecoming?
RJP: Music, food, punch, dancing, makeup demonstration and coronation. Just like your homecoming dance, except with zombies.
SPM: Is the dance catered by outside vendors or just by The Duce?
RJP: The Duce will be providing snacks and punch and there will be drink and food specials for all to enjoy throughout the night. The Homecoming ends at 9:30 but I suspect the zombies in attendance will party into the night.
SPM: What kind of music can attendees expect?
RJP: Classic songs from homecomings past. Maybe some Michael Bolton. Most definitely some Michael Jackson.
SPM: How does “Zombie-tober” help aid St. Mary’s?
RJP: Food shelf items will be collected both at Homecoming and at Zombie Walk five. Over the past four years this event has collected more than three tons of food for St. Mary’s Food Bank. Zombies have proven to be quite charitable. Twenty-five percent of alcohol sales the night of Zombie Walk go to the Rosson House Museum at Heritage & Science Park. As for ticket sales, that money goes back into Homecoming and Zombie Walk five operational expenses.
SPM: Will there be live entertainment?
RJP: We have four bands that will play at Zombie Walk 5: Free Ride In a Mason Jar (alt country and pop), Soul Power (R&B; and pop, including everything from Stevie Wonder and Prince to Earth, Wind and Fire), Recipe for Disaster (Guns & Roses Tribute Band) and our headlining act Powerman 5000, who will be in full zombie attire.
SPM: How did John Holmberg get involved? Will he be creating more than one zombie look?
RJP: We approached KUPD as a media partners in the spring and John Holmberg and his Morning Sickness crew fell in love with the idea of being involved. Holmberg has a large following that seems to be in line with the core demographic of our event.
SPM: Can you explain the Zombie Walk? Will there be anything new this year?
RJP: I expect 10,000 or more zombies and there will be a few surprises I can’t really divulge here. You’ll have to come to see for yourself. It’s quite a spectacle.
SPM: Where did you recruit the makeup artists available before the walk?
RJP: The Ghostbusters provide some makeup support and we have a variety of volunteers and pro-makeup artists who come out to “infect” attendees.
SPM: How did the Zombie Walk become such a huge event in Downtown Phoenix?
RJP: It’s a community event that has grown organically over the last five years. We had 200 at the first walk, 2,000 at the second, 4,000 at the third and over 10,000 attendees last year. I’d like to think the popularity of the event is a result of creative promotion and advertising, showing the people who attend a great time, involving great partners, and of course the overall popularity of the genre.
SPM: Will there be any other zombie-related activities during this “month of zombie madness?”
RJP: Cool zombie deals at downtown businesses, various promotional appearances and some great after-parties at downtown bars.
SPM: Is there anything else you’d like my readers to know about the walk or dance?
RJP: You don’t have to be a zombie to have fun at these events, but it doesn’t hurt. Mostly, the Downtown Phoenix Partnership and its partners are extremely proud to have kept this event family friendly and free to attend. The downtown Phoenix community has embraced Zombie Walk and it’s become a signature event for all of Phoenix and the surrounding areas to enjoy.