By Alejandro Davila
Imperial Valley Press Staff Writer
About 40 “zombies” were seen roaming the Imperial Valley Mall in El Centro on Sunday night.
But no need to be afraid; no brains or limbs were bitten from the hundreds of spectators who witnessed what is thought to be the first Imperial Valley Zombie Walk.
This gory-looking but fun event can be counted as one of the hundreds of zombie walks that have sprung up since the first one took place in Toronto, according to Christopher Moreman, a professor of philosophy at Cal State East Bay and zombie expert who studies horror, paranormal experiences, death and dying in pop culture — to name just a few.
And though “people have been dressing up as corpses for Halloween or Rocky Horror Picture Shows and the like for ages,” Moreman said the first zombie walk took place in the early 2000s. Moreman added there has been an enormous surge in interest in zombies while noting more zombie films have been made since 2000 than in any previous decade. He theorizes this growing interest in the undead may be correlated with the passing of the new millennium and apocalyptic fears of death and resurrection.
He also finds a parallelism in zombies and American culture.
Zombies are frail and generally useless alone, but their power lies in their sheer numbers and relentless determination, he said.
“They thus represent, on one hand, the enslaved but on the other they indicate that the power to obtain freedom lies in hands of the people as a whole,” he said.
But for El Centro resident Jenni Singh, main organizer of the local zombie walk, “zombies are just awesome.”
This last explains why she’s organized zombie walks across Southern California for about seven years before noticing that in Imperial Valley, “We don’t do Halloween stuff.”
So Singh and some friends decided to take action in August, and put up a Facebook page promoting the walk.
Singh anticipated that if anything, she would get a dozen people to participate.
Singh couldn’t have been more mistaken.
Even zombie families with children as young as 2 years old were seen in this brief but colorful event set to entertain while also gather food for the Imperial Valley Food Bank.
“Zombies are bringing canned food. We are going to feed other people’s brains,” said Singh shortly before gathering the zombies in a straight line outside of the east entrance of the mall.
El Centro resident Claudia Salazar was in that crowd, in full zombie make-up and wearing a “bloody” wedding dress.
“It’s not so much about me but about my kids. They like (zombies), so I wanted to join them,” said Salazar, a mother of three.
The zombie walk went from the east entrance, passed the food court and ended at the Hot Topic store.
As zombies walked and moaned, spectators took picture after picture while others looked simply puzzled. Then there was El Centro resident Nathan Santana, 10, who stared at the zombies as they finished the walk.
“The costumes look very real,” he said joyfully.
Nathan’s friend, Aaron Escoto, 13, another El Centro resident, was standing close by.
“This is pretty awesome,” Aaron said with a smile.
And it was certainly awesome for the zombies as well.
“When I looked back it was as if I was in a zombie movie,” said El Centro resident Ian Salazar, 13.
For J.D. Adams from Imperial, the zombie walk was important, not only because it was fun, but because of the food drive element, which didn’t have as much of a response as he expected.
Still, this zombie walk was “just to get us on the map,” Adams said, adding next year he’ll push to emphasize the charity portion of the event.
If Adams is correct, then the Valley is poised to see zombies roam again.
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