Zombies descend on San Antonio

For one frightful night, a group of the undead gather in downtown San Antonio to walk from Hemisfair to the Alamo

Last Saturday in downtown San Antonio, passersby might have thought a zombie apocalypse had taken over the city. This migration was none other than the San Antonio Zombie Walk, an annual event that supports local businesses, provides a safe place for the surprisingly numerous zombie-loving community and brings together people of different interests. Known as the largest zombie gathering in Texas, this event takes place every year on a weekend in late October.

The festival started at Hemisfair Park, 603 E Nueva St, in the shadow of the Tower of Americas. Then, at dusk, the Zombie Walk participants began their walk to the Alamo. After the walk, an after-party and festival took place back at the park. The festival also included live music from the Bexar Brass Band, which is, according to their Facebook page, “San Antonio’s favorite brass band,” as well as vendors, attractions, artists, drinks and, of course, brains.

Hector Fiore, a face painter and owner of Fiesta Kids Entertainment, talks about the costume contest that the walk puts on. At the costume contest, participants put on a performance.

“What they do every year is that they have a contest where they got a performance,” Fiore said. “Whoever has the best costume, or the most amazing, they win. People just get excited for the performance and everything.”

The costume contest is for both kids and adults, and the walk gives away $1,000 in cash and prizes. This year people tried to express their inner demon by using makeup to look like a portion of their faces were ripped off. They also took creative liberties regarding what kind of zombie they dressed up as. There was even a flapper zombie and an undead Harry Potter.

This event gives people an opportunity to express their creativity, such as David Rodriguez, a zombie fanatic, who dressed up in a blue suit, zombie mask and sunglasses. His costume drew inspiration from one of his favorite zombie movies.

“It’s from a movie called ‘They Live,’” Rodriguez said. “In the movie, it’s about these aliens that look like people and you have to put on sunglasses to see their real appearance, and in the movie they brainwash people. It’s all about a metaphor, about making people zombies, doing these things, obeying, submitting.”

The people in attendance included, but were not limited to, zombie fanatics. In addition, there were local vendors who set up booths displaying their best goods, while local artists sold their paintings and prints to attendees. Carolina Resendis, a first-time vendor and owner of Carolinas Creations, described her reason for coming this year.

“I just thought it was an interesting event and I just said ‘well let’s try it and see,’” Resendis said. “There’s a lot of horror, but it’s interesting.”

Fiore, another vendor, revealed his motivation for coming as well.

“I love it. Every time I know I have to come here,” Fiore said. “I get excited because you get to see nice people, you get to talk to people, and you get to see a lot of costumes, a lot of people dressed up like zombies.”

One of Rodriguez’s general impressions after coming to the San Antonio Zombie Walk regarded small business owners like Resendis and Fiore.

“So far, it seems to be supporting independent businesses,” Rodriguez said. “Hoping to see more costumes, that would be my favorite part.”

In addition to artists, vendors and zombie fanatics, there were plenty of run-of-the-mill San Antonians. People came in order to see crazy costumes, eat funnel cake, buy trinkets and get their faces painted. The event was very inclusive to anyone who wanted to be there. People who were dressed up as zombies were also very open to taking pictures with the unzombified.

In addition, all the vendors were very happy to talk to the patrons and enjoyed the event just as much as everyone else. The brass music was playing and the energy was very high.

While there were rumors that the walk was trying to break the Guinness World Record for the largest zombie walk this year, it was all talk. This year, the event was more focused on reintegration into the community, especially after COVID. The event is not about some number-crunching record; the real draw is the atmosphere and the people who come.

As Fiore said, “[Y]ou get to see crazy people doing all sorts of crazy stuff here.”