Return of the living dead
Saturday’s cold, wet weather was not enough to stop the undead from rising from their tombs for the second-annual Fort Frances Zombie Walk.
The event drew about 30 ghouls of all ages, from infants to middle-age adults, who put on their best zombie costumes and then staggered and shuffled through the downtown area that afternoon.
For many participants, it was their first zombie walk.
“It was a blast!” enthused Sarah Marusyk, who along with Samantha Manty dressed up as living dead ’50s housewives who brought along home baking in the form of brain pies.
“It was a little cold. But the weather doesn’t really affect zombies anyway,” she smiled.
Marusyk said she read about the zombie walk in the Times, and then Manty had mentioned it to her. On Friday, they both decided to it.
“It’s the kind of the thing you can do last minute, so we put something together,” she remarked.
“It was fun.”
Marusyk said she would “absolutely” like to see more unusual events like the zombie walk take place in Fort Frances.
“There was a participatory viewing of the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ last year at Little Beaver, and I’d love to see someone do that again,” she noted.
“That was a blast,” added Marusyk. “I think it was a fundraiser for the roller derby team.
“It had a meal, and you watched the film and did all the things along with it, so it’d be cool [to have it again].”
Marusyk said there’s a lot of “weird people in our town,” though clarifying they’re “a good weird” and it would be great to see more events catering to them.
Another first-timer Saturday was Piran Erwin, who was decked out as a military special forces zombie hunter.
“I think it was amazing and fun, and it was an opportunity to do pretty much what I’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t [because nobody else was doing it],” he reasoned, adding he definitely will be participating next year.
Erwin said he didn’t mind the rain and wind at all.
“That’s the type of weather when you imagine stuff like this,” he remarked.
“We had a great time,” echoed Shirley Scofield, who brought along her dog as well as her young neighbour, Gracie George.
“[Gracie’s] mommy was working today, and [Gracie] likes to be with people, so I thought she’d get a big thrill out of it,” Scofield said.
“I think it was better than last year,” said Yvonne McPherson, who walked along with friends Samara Payne and Jacy Gagne.
“It was cold!” admitted Payne.
But both McPherson and Payne agreed the event was “awesome,” and they’d definitely participate again next year. But they’d really like to see more zombies out.
“We need more people,” stressed Payne, adding they’re aware there’s plenty of zombie fans in Fort Frances.
They both noted it doesn’t take too much work to get dressed up and put on zombie makeup, adding it only took them about an hour.
Both said they’re fans of the uber-popular TV series, “The Walking Dead,” as well as zombie films.
When asked about the appeal of zombies, Payne replied: “They’re dead but they’re alive, though—that’s the cool thing.”
The quintessential zombie family, Jason and Cherish Gervais and their toddler daughter, Araya, returned this year with infant daughter, Avacyn, who just was born in July.
“Nicer weather would have been nice, but I think it also set the mood with the rain, kind of a darker theme,” said Jason Gervais.
“It was pretty cool.
“Our little one [Araya] is bigger now, and our own horde has grown, so it was a lot more work this year getting more people ready but it’s still a lot of fun,” he added.
Jason Gervais won the prize for best costume. Last year, he was a convincing ghoul but this time he upped the gore factor with a partially-burned face and a knife stuck in his head.
He also packed a collection of body parts, which alternately could be trophies of his conquest over the living or snacks if he was feeling peckish.
Gervais noted he spent more time—about three weeks—preparing his “hard to kill” zombie look, compared to a week last year.
Cherish Gervais and Erwin also earned prizes for their costumes. Several other participants were given Fort Frances Zombie Walk T-shirts.
Organizer Allan Yerxa Sr. said there is no doubt the zombie walk will return next fall.
“I thought this was a fantastic event this year, even though the weather didn’t co-operate,” he remarked.
“But you can’t always count on that.
“The enthusiasm of the participants was still there, and it was nice to see our zombie family [the Gervais] come out,” Yerxa added. “And there’s a few more people here that I didn’t see last year.
“Overall, I’m pleased with the event,” he said.