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The undead swarm the streets at largest-ever Ottawa Zombie Walk

Anique Wallace | Fulcrum Contributor

Photo by Mathias MacPhee

Despite poor weather conditions, the fifth annual Ottawa Zombie Walk went off without a hitch as more than 2,000 dedicated participants took to the downtown streets on Oct. 27.

Undead brides and grooms, soldiers, baseball players, bikers, clowns, and even a zombie Pocahontas gathered at MacDonald Gardens Park (originally one of Ottawa’s largest cemeteries) to begin their hunt for brains Saturday afternoon. Zombie pets, children, and adults of all sizes, shapes, and levels of believability were on the move. The staggering procession ended at Parliament Hill, where participants posed for a group photo and a final monstrous growl.

“My goal was to attend all the Halloween-related events in Ottawa this season,” said first-time participant Laura Dennisson. “It was a lot of fun. A friend of mine did the makeup and we walked all the way to the Hill.”

The event—credited by some with officially kicking off the Halloween spirit in Ottawa—receives plenty of support every year, and nearby business owners don’t seem to mind.

“It’s tremendous fun,” said Les Gagne, executive director of the Sparks Street business improvement area, which is partnered with the Ottawa Zombie Walk. “It exceeded last year’s turnout, and we hope to do it bigger and better next year.”

Although he opted not to dress up, Gagne was on site with a megaphone to pump up the horde of walking dead.

The Ottawa Police Service was in attendance for the first time in the walk’s history; the event has gotten so large that this year’s walk required police supervision for safety and traffic control. This police supervision came at a whopping cost of about $3,500, which initially put the status of the event in question until local radio station Chez 106 offered to cover the expense.

One officer stayed at the front of the group, two stayed in back, and several more in squad cars were responsible for suspending and directing traffic as the group lumbered down the streets of Ottawa. The zombies headed west through the ByWard Market before turning southbound and walking through the University of Ottawa campus, west on Somerset Street, and back up Elgin to Parliament Hill.

“Despite the large numbers, everything went very smoothly, at least on my end,” said one supervising officer. When asked if he would consider participating next year, he laughed and said, “I don’t know if this is my kind of thing.”

Also among the participants were spectators and curious onlookers—who might now have contracted the infection, too.

“It’s my first walk—I was too chicken to dress up, but maybe next time,” said one observer who found out about the event through friends and wanted to check it out.

Although the event is free and open to the public, organizers asked participants to bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the Ottawa Food Bank as a way of giving back to the community. Approximately 500 cans of food were donated at last year’s zombie walk.