The living dead will fill the streets of downtown Boston Saturday, as thousands slather themselves in fake blood and ghoulish makeup for the eighth annual Zombie March through the city.
The shambling begins at 3:30 p.m. on May 19 at South Station and continues through the afternoon, with an after-party for zombies and survivors 18 and up from 6 – 10 p.m. at the North Star, a sports bar at 22 Friend St. in the Bulfinch Triangle. The party will include screenings of zombie films “Return of the Living Dead” and “Dead Alive.”
Originally hosted by a group called Guerilla Illustrations, for the last four years the Zombie March has been organized by 24-year-old event planner Scott Trano. Speaking by phone on Friday afternoon, Trano was at a loss to describe the experience.
“I think it’s exactly how it sounds — you show up and it’s a zombie invasion,” he said. “It’s people from all walks of life come together for a few hours one day and they have a good time, and that’s a rare thing these days.”
Videos and photos posted on-line show that last year’s Zombie March VII attracted many enthusiastic zombies and survivors, some in military garb, who played out familiar zombie-movie scenarios through Downtown Crossing, Government Center, and Boston Common. Some took part in a group dance to the Village People disco hit “YMCA.”
Creative costumes are welcome, with some 2011 participants dressed as zombie cheerleaders, zombie rappers, zombie penguins, zombie clowns, Bizarro Superman, and zombie Lady Gaga. Trano said the event sometimes crosses paths with other outdoor activities not entirely in sync with its mission.
“Every year there’s somebody having their wedding pictures taken in Boston Common during that day,” he said. Most react to the zombies with good humor, he said, but several years ago a bridezilla approached the crowd and began screaming at them.
The march is free to join, but it is not a free-for-all. Its rules require that zombies don’t harass civilians, bring weapons that could do real harm, or get fake blood on storefronts.
On Friday afternoon, more than 3,000 people had indicated their intention of attending the march on a Facebook page devoted to the event. That’s a big growth over time from an event that in its first year, 2005, attracted about 80 of the living dead, according to an old MySpace page.
Trano said more than 2,000 people showed up last year, despite a problem when Facebook shut down the page because it decided an event with so many participants must be spam.
A group that size, he said, takes about 12 minutes to pass a given spot on the route, which winds from South Station through Downtown Crossing, across Boston Common to Newbury Street and on to the Prudential Center, where the zombies will march right through the high-end shops on their way to the Boston Public Library.
From there, they will head down Boylston Street back to Boston Common and on to Government Center, where survivors will gather at the top of the stairs on City Hall Plaza and zombies at the bottom for an all-out battle.
The survivors don’t last long, Trano said. They are always far outnumbered by zombies.