After years of haunting downtown, zombies crawl home

Old and (mostly) young filled the streets on Saturday, dressed in their graveyard best.

The entrance to the Zombie Pub Crawl is seen on Saturday, Oct. 13 in Northeast Minneapolis.

Courtney Deutz

The entrance to the Zombie Pub Crawl is seen on Saturday, Oct. 13 in Northeast Minneapolis.

Samir Ferdowsi

All along the river bank near Sibley Street in Northeast on Saturday, puddles of red stained the sidewalk.

For over a decade, the Minneapolis Zombie Pub Crawl has taken place in downtown Minneapolis. This year it returned to Northeast, where it began in 2005. 

Whether it was to visit one of three bars participating in the crawl or to catch a glimpse of Shaq — yes THAT Shaq — DJing a set on stage, the walking dead caused a commotion that seemed to meld fact with fiction.

“Yeah, I would say it’s been a night of slightly out-of-control chaos,” said Will Weeks, bartender and server at Elsie’s. “I really haven’t seen anyone from the neighborhood out here tonight.”

As one of the crawl’s pit stops, the bar was spewing out of capacity. Zombies were waiting in heinous lines, some were sitting on the sidewalk crying and, “you youngins are ruining our drinking!” could be heard not far off.

Interestingly, a couple had decided to host a wedding in the bowling alley-equipped bar that same night. No “Corpse Bride” costumes could be seen on guests.

With downtown’s old graveyard skyscrapers towering in the distance, the stage area was positioned next to the Mississippi River. A blow-up zombie overlooked its minions as the undead filed into the park, stumbling — quite literally — through the gates. 

“It’s really just a lot more impressive,” said gory magician and five-time zombie crawler Nick Nilin. “[The event] definitely has come a long way, but it feels more welcoming over here.”

As Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” ricocheted through the park before Shaq’s set, the monsters of the 612 mashed on.

“My friends decided to go, so I was roped into coming along,” said ZPC first-timer and deformed lumberjack Dan Stewart. “I mean, it’s also my birthday … so I guess that’s also why I wanted to come.”

The enjoyment level varied drastically between crawlers, some having the time of their undead lives and others seemingly wishing they were dead.

Nonetheless, the chilly October night grew darker — aside from the lightsabers being sold next to beer stations. Waving them about in the pit, the army of the dead were ready for a ghoulish rave.

“It feels like a festival now,” said carnaged clown Kevin Fee. “It takes so much energy to just get down here and get into it, it’s definitely different from when it was down here way back.”

Crawl attendees since the beginning, Fee and his wife Elizabeth Fee (whose pregnant-zombie costume included an unborn baby with its head out of her stomach and umbilical cord attached) have seen the event through the decade. 

They show no signs of stopping, but are the two as gung-ho about what the night has crawled into? 

“No,” both said simultaneously. “Basically, it was much simpler back then. That’s how we liked it.”