Undead: A Q&A with Ottawa Zombie Walk organizer Bryony Etherington

Dig out the fake blood and get your torn clothing ready – the sixth-annual Ottawa Zombie Walk rises again this afternoon! The walk takes place from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., starting at the MacDonald Gardens Park in Lowertown and ending at Parliament Hill.

We asked Bryony, the two-year organizer of the walk, for more information about the undead event. What can we say? We were dying to find out more.

Photo by Ian Flynn McDonald

What is the zombie walk?

The zombie walk is essentially a big parade of people dressed up and acting like zombies that goes through the downtown core. The event started nine years ago in Toronto with seven people and has now grown to something that happens all across the world. We’re in our sixth year here in Ottawa. Now it has gotten to the point where it’s getting complex and people are doing survivors and zombie hunter characters. It’s just a very performative act and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a big Halloween event.

That video trailer for the Ottawa Zombie Walk was created by the very talented folks at Parktown.

Bryony at her first Ottawa Zombie Walk

How did you get involved with organizing the event?

Last year around the first week of October a bunch of friends and I were chatting about the fact that we hadn’t heard anything about this year’s walk. So when we realized that no one was running it, I took the reins.

Other than the walk itself, what are some of the other activities that the zombies can participate in?

The big one that we’re trying to encourage is the food drive for the Ottawa Food Bank. We’re going to be collecting donations at our start location, which is MacDonald Gardens Park at Cobourg and Rideau. We’re going to have a table there and some volunteers gathering donations of non-perishable food as well as personal hygiene products.

There’s also going to be coffin rides, which are a virtual simulation of being buried alive. It’s a really cool ride provided by RUNAMOK Party Rentals, a local Ottawa party rental company. After the walk we’ve got a bunch of zombie friendly destinations for you to enjoy the after-party fun. They include a horror film short festival at the Mayfair Theatre, Dominion Tavern and D’Arcy McGees, which is very close to Parliament Hill where we end. I heard tonight that Fat Tuesday’s and the Velvet Room are also open to having people come by.

What is your most memorable moment from a past zombie walk?

Flickr photo via k-t-s photography

It was when last year’s walk ended at Parliament Hill and I got to see all the people that showed up. It was my first year organizing it and I wasn’t sure how things were going to go. I was a little stressed out, but seeing how excited people were and the amazing costumes and make-up people came up with made me really happy that we were able to keep the walk alive and even grow it last year. Aside from that, it’s the reactions from the people who don’t expect you to come through their neighbourhood: tourists, business owners who have never heard of the walk, people who are just hanging out downtown and in the Market who didn’t know we were coming by. The reactions are priceless. It’s always fun to have that spook and confusion factor with everybody.

Flickr photo via k-t-s photography

Do you have any tips for the soon-to-be-undead zombies still looking to create their outfit?

Think outside the box. A zombie is going to be anybody. In the event of a real-world zombie apocalypse, it doesn’t just target people who are already set up to look like zombies. One of the things that is really interesting about zombies is that they’re everyday people who have just been transformed into something else. I know we’re expecting Alice in Wonderland zombies, people dressed as nurses, police officers, truckers, everything. So don’t limit yourself. All you have to be is dead, or undead, but you can be any type of undead that you want. Other than that, don your fake blood and your deadly looking-ness.

Where can people go to find out more information about the Ottawa Zombie Walk?
People can visit our website, Facebook page or Twitter account. We’ll also be tweeting under the hashtag #OZW11.

Looking to catch up with the zombies on their route? Follow the trail of blood… (or this map)

We’re hopefully going to head downtown later today and shoot some video of the walk – if we see you there, please don’t suck our brains out!