Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 12, 2013

Angela Crowell walked ahead of the horde, dressed in army fatigues and waving a megaphone.

“The apocalypse is here,” She yelled into the mic. “You’ve been warned!”

Behind her came a shuffling mass of zombies that reached out to grab the shirtsleeves of spectators. The Headless Horseman rode toward the front, leading the undead mob through the streets of Salisbury.

A strange sight to many unprepared visitors at Friday’s Night Out, the so-called plague was Salisbury’s fourth zombie walk and the culmination of a year of planning.

Stacey Cannon, co-owner of Dead Ed’s on Innes Street, Tony “Digger the Zombie” Spears, and Chris Crowell brought the walk to Salisbury four years ago. The friends had attended other zombie walks—particularly in Charlotte and Myrtle Beach—and fell in love with the idea. When they participated in a successful zombie-themed night during the 2009 Modern Film Festival in Cannon Village, they started talking about holding a walk in Salisbury.

That first year, Stacey said, they didn’t have a huge crowd. The walk was Halloween weekend, and Cannon thinks they lost a lot of potential participants to larger events. But two years ago organizers finally got the hint, and started holding the walk on the Friday Night Out in October. Which, Cannon said, is great for participants because the point is to be seen.

“It’s just grown and grown,” Cannon said.

According to organizers, this year nearly 200 people participated in the walk. The would-be undead gathered in front of Allied Finance on South Main to get made over with pale faces, ripped skin, stitches, and blood.

Ronn Bauman normally works at the Carolina Renaissance Fair as Scaramouche Tortuga — part of the Tortuga Twins stage act. A zombie enthusiast and a fan of Salisbury, he decided to come participate in the walk. He was decked out and ready to go long before the walk’s 8 p.m. start, and stood watching others get ready.

“I love seeing how happy everyone is,” Bauman said.

The walk isn’t just for adults, though. For some, like Derek and Riley Bost, it was a family affair. While Bost isn’t a zombie fan, his son, 10 year-old Riley is. So when Bost saw the event pop up on Facebook, he knew he and Riley had to go. Riley said he was having fun, even before the official walk started.

“I can’t really describe it,” he said.

The walk charged a $7 participation fee, which will be donated directly to the Humane Society of Rowan. Cannon has been working with the Humane Society of Rowan since she was a teenager and she’s been a huge supporter, representative Jane Hartness said. Hartness and other volunteers have been partnering with Salisbury’s zombie walk every year, and Hartness says she looks forward to it.

“It’s a lot of fun with good people,” she said.

Dead Ed’s is also conducting a food drive that kicked off at the walk and will continue for the rest of the year.

To help bring some extra zip to the event, Carolina Ghost Busters, Carolina Coffin Cruisers and the Kannapolis Roller Girls also participated. Rexx Shelton made a guest appearance as the Headless Horseman, with a costume provided by the Meroney Theater.

The walk made a long loop around the square, walking by downtown merchants who helped support the walk by offering deals or donating raffle prizes. The zombies eventually came to a stop in front of Uncle Bucks All American Pub & Grub, which hosted an after party, complete with a costume contest and a comedy act by Walt Brotherton.

In a time when many cities are trying to shut down zombie walks, Cannon said she’s received “unprecedented support” from the community. The walk was supported by the Merchants’ Association, the Tourism Board, and even the Salisbury Police Department. In addition, zombie make-overs were provided for free by Drew Badger of Rabid Badger Haunt Consulting, Squeaky D, Get Dead Crew and Misha’s Dancing Phalanges.

“We’ve just received an outpouring of support.” Cannon said.

Next year, Cannon says, the plan is to have the walk on the first Friday in October, as part of the First Friday initiative.

“I can’t be more pleased with how this has turned out.” Cannon said.