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The dead are alive: Zombies march in Downtown Newhall

More than 500 zombies jam Main Street

Posted: October 18, 2009 10:45 p.m.
Updated: October 19, 2009 4:55 a.m.

George Kritikos, left, of Studio Makeup Academy, helps 13-year-old Bryce Youngquist transform into a zombie outside Brave New World in Newhall on Saturday. Over 500 participants made either monetary donations or gave canned food to benefit the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry.

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As daylight disappeared Saturday, more than 500 bloodied and oozing zombies shambled down Main Street on the hunt for living flesh and frightened victims.

"I want to eat some brains. I missed out on lunch," said Anthony Villwock, of Acton, as he prepared to follow the rest of the walking dead through downtown Newhall.

But before Villwock and the zombie crowd could fulfill their own cravings, they made their contributions to the living hungry.

The wannabe zombie crowd filled more than twelve shopping carts with canned goods for the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry. The donations were the zombies' tickets to participate in the Main Street Zombie March hosted by Brave New World comic book shop.

By 6 p.m., when the march was scheduled to start, Brave New World had already registered more than 500 zombie walkers. More participants meant more canned goods and check donations for the food pantry and a more spectacular show for unsuspecting witnesses.

"There are a lot of families, teens, adults (and) little kids," said Portlyn Freeman, co-owner of Brave New World.

The march even brought out creatures from outside the SCV who discovered the planned gathering through social networking sites like Facebook or the Heritage Haunt Web site, www.scvhaunt.com.

"I am a zombie adolescent psychologist and my name is William D. Vower," said Mark Freeman, of Chatsworth, with a fake eyeball hanging out of his right eye socket. "My wife is an educator and her name is Ms. Earry."

For David Zuckman, of Canyon Country, it wasn't hard to tap into his inner zombie.

"I hobble towards people saying ‘braaains' or something along those lines," Zuckman said. "I go back to my acting roots ... and it really brings out the zombie in me."

On Main Street, the zombie crowd looked for retailers to terrorize. But the owners of the Way Station Coffee Shop were not troubled. They even had candy "body parts" and Jell-O "brain snacks" for the hungry zombies.

"We are very zombie friendly," said co-owner Lynda James. "The Way Station discriminates against no one."

Most zombies did not hold back when it came to scaring their unsuspecting victims, no matter what age they were.

Five-year-old Arwen O'Dell clung to her mother's arm as the zombie crowd passed her on Main Street.

"When I saw two little zombies, they scared me," Arwen said. "I'm scared of all of them."

The O'Dells were aware the march was planned and grabbed a bench on Main Street to watch.

"Being scared this time of year is fun," said Atom!, co-owner of Brave New World. "People go to things like Heritage Haunt because they like being scared and they like that thrill.

"Something very deep inside of us wants that fight or flight once in a while and our daily lives don't necessarily give it to us."

Those near the Canyon Theatre Guild witnessed the zombies unleash their own performance of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" Dance.

Many of the wannabe zombies lined up for hours before the march in front of Brave New World to have their gory makeup done by The Studio Makeup Academy - free of charge - and enjoy a pre-walk smoothie, courtesy of Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffees and Smoothies.

Earlier in the day, Brave New World hosted a book signing by local horror writer Kevin VanHook, author of "Superman & Batman vs. Vampires & Werewolves."

Atom! initially pitched the Main Street Zombie March as a way to promote the Heritage Haunt at William S. Hart Park. When Heritage Haunt and city officials liked and approved of the idea, the event snowballed and attracted hundreds of residents through online sites, according to the comic store's Web site.

"You don't see this everyday," a grey-faced and blood-wearing Zuckman said. "I'm just here to have fun and scare people that don't understand what's going on."

One of those unsuspecting spectators was Gabriel Guerrero who happened to be out on Main Street when he was surrounded by hosts of zombies.

"I didn't expect it," Guerrero said through a Spanish translator. "I was on this street earlier and I didn't say anything and all of sudden these zombies started coming up."

After the undead marched through downtown Newhall and back up to William S. Hart Park, many headed back to Brave New World for the "Zombie Prom."

"We knew it was going to be fun ... and we knew we'd be able to raise a lot of food for food pantry," Atom! said.

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