Zombies have always been part of the horror scene of characters. They have been gaining popularity in pop culture and zombie walks began to form. From 2005 on, there have been many gatherings of significant size in the United States and throughout the world.
Besides the celebration of all things zombie, these zombie walks or celebrations commonly have a giving side in benefiting non-profit charitable organizations. Not to mention the significant boost in revenue to the local municipality where it is being held.
This year our Nomadic Family decided to wander on over to Lakeland, Florida and mix it up with the zombies in the area.
Lakeland, Florida is a beautiful city with a population of about 100,000. Right in the center of town is a beautiful small lake with nice scenery, sculptures and office buildings around it. We walked around the lake and never could detect that we were just a few hundred yards from a Zombie Apocalypse!
In 2012 Lakeland had their very first Zombiefest. Last year in 2013, they had over 20,000 people show up. That is 20% population growth in one night! This year, on their 3rd annual Zombiefest, that number was anticipated to be even larger. This year Contagion, a PC Gamer Best Games of 2014 Award Winner was the official sponsor of the Downtown Zombiefest. Many other local, regional and national businesses sponsored also.
First, let me give you a parking tip. We drove into Lakeland and we passed one of the first paid parking lots. We figured we would drive around a bit and scope things out for closer parking or even free parking. The multi-floor public parking was completely filled. We circled around the lake to see people charging $5 for people to park in their yard. the first paid parking we originally came to was closer and the same price, so we decided to go back to it. Within 10 minutes of driving by the first time, a sign was put up saying “Lot Full.”
So, we progressed away from the lake. Mandy “Mama Nomad” spotted a sign that said visitor parking. I circled back around and low and behold…guess where it was? The Lakeland Police Department! We thought “We’re visitors. We need parking. That must mean us.” And besides, the likelihood of our car being broken into or damaged in the police parking lot was much lower than in a public lot. And, it was free. So, to the Lakeland Police Department, Living Nomad Style appreciates your hospitality.
We parked and headed towards downtown. We arrived around 6pm. The crowds were gathering. But it was not apocalyptic. We thought, there is no way there are 20,000 people here. Back to this in a minute. As we were walking up, there were some people with white face makeup and dark circles and then there were those who went all out! And I mean they really went all out. We even ran into Ooogie Boogie from Nightmare Before Christmas. Our youngest Nomad, Trevor, even got a pose with him. Honestly though, the creepiest one I saw was not even a zombie. It was a little kid in all black just standing alone by himself.
Side note…his Aunt was about 5 feet away keeping an eye on him. We asked her for permission to take his picture.
We walked around and looked at the booths. They had zombie shirts for $5, funnel cakes, zombie gear, costumes, face painting, music and games. We even saw zombies doing races in these big, inflatable, human sized balls. It was rather enjoyable.
We began to get hungry and went into a local restaurant, right in the middle of all of the action. It was called Black and Brew. There should be a follow-up post on it later. Anyway, we went in, ordered, sat and ate our food all the while watching zombies of all shapes and sizes enter and leave. We were in there for maybe an hour. And what a difference that hour made. When we exited…it was full on apocalypse. There were zombies, zombie hunters, victims and all sorts of people everywhere! Looking at the pix below, you will soon begin to realize the amount of people you had to wade through to get anywhere. Let me just say, if there was a real zombie outbreak in a crowd like that, it would have spread quickly!
We battled our way up one street and back down another. We fought our way over to the stage and listened to the live band for a while. We even stopped so that Ethan, with his Free Hugs shirt could give a zombie a hug. I think that when he asked the zombie for a hug that the zombie was more scared and surprised than our middle Nomad.
I continued to look and look all night long for the perfect Zombie Hunter costume to take a picture of. There were a lot of good Zombie Hunter costumes. Most seemed like they were out of video games and not the cinematic style Zombie Hunters. In the end, I took a picture of the type of Zombie Hunter I would have called on that night if there were actually zombies running around. That’s right. Lakeland’s finest. Thank you to officer from Lakeland PD for your good nature in posing for our Zombie Hunter picture.
All in all it was a fun evening. If you like zombies, big crowds, live music and a ton of creative people, put Lakeland Florida’s Zombiefest on your calendar if you are in the area during October.