Zombies overrun Issaquah, menace unsuspecting residents
November 1, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
The undead creaked and rasped to life in Issaquah hours before sunset Oct. 29, as zombie hordes menaced motorists on a downtown street and overran a festival in the Issaquah Highlands.
The zombies, groaning and ashen-faced, clad in blood-spattered and torn clothes, started to creep south along Front Street North just after 3 p.m.
Traffic decelerated to a crawl as zombies shambled down the centerline and along the lanes’ edges as motorists — some bewildered, some bemused — aimed cameras at the horde. Others stared straight ahead in stunned silence as zombies peered inside their vehicles and tapped on windows.
The experience — a convincing glimpse of how a zombie apocalypse might unfold in Issaquah — started after the DownTown Issaquah Association, a merchants group, called on the living to dress as the undead for a jaunt from the Hailstone Feed Store to the Issaquah Library.
In a scene authentic enough to do justice to legendary zombie film director George A. Romero, the horde prompted callers to report zombies to the Issaquah Police Department during the 40-minute haul to the library.
“We are in Zombie Watch 2011, unofficially,” police Communications Specialist Jacqueline Kerness joked after the zombie horde dispersed.
The horde, about 60 zombies strong, paid homage to Michael Jackson and, under uncharacteristic October sunshine, danced to “Thriller” at the library entrance. Zombies, in spastic steps, sometimes in synch and sometimes not, quivered and shivered as more than 100 people crowded around, cameras and smartphones aloft.
Some bystanders bopped to the beat for — as Vincent Price affirmed — “no mere mortal can resist the evil of the thriller.”
In the highlands, more zombies gathered just after sunset for another “Thriller” routine. The undead, including some from the downtown formation, shuffled to a cordoned-off stretch along 10th Avenue Northeast and at 6 p.m. sharp joined a Guinness World Record attempt to pull off the largest simultaneous dance.
The dance capped the daylong Green Halloween Festival.
Zumba instructor Cindy Klenk, dressed appropriately enough as a circus ringleader in a sparkling gold top hat and gold-trimmed tails, led more than 30 zombies through the challenging choreography.
The horde started rehearsing the steps more than a month ago to participate in Thrill the World — a chance to set a record and a global tribute to the late King of Pop.
Issaquah resident Diane Brace and daughter Eva, 13, donned matching skull T-shirts and ghoulish face paint for the “Thriller” dance. The elder Brace described the costumes as a Frida Kahlo-inspired riff on Day of the Dead artwork.
“That’s the nice thing about children,” Diane Brace said. “You can force your weirdness on them.”
Cara Covac, a zombie dressed in blood-speckled Hello Kitty pajamas, said most motorists laughed as the horde advanced downtown, leaden step by leaden step, to the library.
“Some of them were like, ‘Don’t touch my car,’ but some of them were like, ‘This is great,’” said the Issaquah resident and preschool teacher.
Revelers’ costumes reflected the transformation from suburbia to land of the undead — doctors in bloodstained scrubs, a bride in a dirt-smudged dress and businessmen rotting inside suits.
Issaquah resident Troy White inched across downtown on foot as a zombie cyclist, a tree branch poking from the helmet and blood seeping from a leg gash.
“I kept asking people, ‘Where’s my bike?’” he said. “I got some laughs from that.”
Covac’s decaying husband, Chris, came as a businessman transformed into a zombie after a long meeting — “death by PowerPoint,” he said.
Since the Covacs participated in a downtown Issaquah zombie horde last October, “Shaun of the Dead” and “Zombieland” entered into rotation at home. They brought other family members to join the mindless horde downtown.
“This has changed our lives — and our deaths,” Cara Covac said.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.