The 2013 Long Beach Zombie Walk Music & Arts Festival invaded Downtown Long Beach this past Saturday night. Following a similar method of operation as last year, this all-ages zombie festival took place over multiple blocks in Downtown Long Beach, completely closing Pine Avenue between 3rd & Broadway, and taking up much of the space of the Promenade. More of a Halloween festival than an actual walk, the $15 admission included many activities such as a movie viewing, costume contests, live music, food trucks, games, wrestling, and more. In 2011, this event cost nothing to attend, and featured an actual walk where zombies would march a predetermined route throughout Downtown Long Beach. Due to the rabid interference of Occupy Long Beach that year, the organizers revamped this festival into what you will see below.
The Zombie Walk zoned off three distinct areas that required paid admission to enter. Pine Avenue closed to traffic between 3rd & Broadway to make room for a music stage. The northern parking lot section of the promenade contained the main stage, food trucks, a few vendors & games, and the wrestling ring. Down south on a grassy expanse of the promenade, attendees could watch movies on the big projector screen. All other areas, such as the vendor row right outside the middle section, did not require paid admission to see. Although the official costume contests took place on the main stage, that did not stop hundreds from dressing up for this unique holiday.
An old friend found me at the Zombie Walk, where I discovered her dressed as Bride of Chucky. She made me realize how much non-costumed people wanted to take pictures with anyone in costume. As we walked around, many people, in costume or not, stopped us to ask for a picture. Naturally, I could not resist opportunities for photos as well!
On the main stage, I attended mainly to see three bands. I had arrived after The Maxies had played, so I had to progress without them. First though, I made my way to the stage to see the Radioactive Chicken Heads. Well, what can I say about these guys that pictures do not illustrate? Having existed as a group for over 20 years, this ska/punk parody band has garnered quite a cult following since inception, despite mainstream media exhibiting them as a foolish joke. They have appeared on syndicated television a few times, but the general public cannot possibly grasp the epicness behind the Radioactive Chicken Heads. I had not seen them in over a year, so I made it a priority to stay within the pit for their set.
After strolling around the Zombie Walk for a bit, I returned to the main stage for the headlining act, The Dickies. Sure I just saw them a week prior, but why miss out on such a fun show? As a band from punk rock’s first generation, The Dickies have historically influenced the entire punk rock community as we see it today. Their comedic performance coupled with relevant props makes for a show to enjoy for everyone, fans or not. Since I squeezed into the front row, I missed much of the action in the rest of the audience, so please enjoy these up-close photos of The Dickies!
This significant change in the Zombie Walk may have occurred for the better. As it operated two years ago, the festival did not require an admission fee, so anyone could simply walk up and mix in with visitors. This includes the many shady characters that loom around Downtown Long Beach. On a more significant level, as the actual walk started, Occupy Long Beach brought their protest from City Hall to where the walk would have marched through. All these problems plus the need for street closures brought about major changes that surfaced last year. The festival moved to Marina Green and started to require an admission fee. The organizers added more content within the festival, such as more music, food trucks, mazes, a beer garden, and more. In exchange, they did away with the physical “walk” part, as that meant leaving the festival area, subjecting anyone in said walk to the unpredictable nature of strolling through Downtown Long Beach. Folks wanting to participate in a physical walk may have to search elsewhere for such a thing. For now, the Long Beach Zombie Walk will operate as an all-ages Halloween festival catered to adults. Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter to receive updates on related upcoming events, plus information regarding next year’s zombie walk.