SMITHVILLE - A stroll through the Historic Village of Smithville at dusk Oct. 29 was a frightening experience as hundreds of zombies filled the paths of the village during the annual Zombie Walk.
Participants pulled out all the stops to seize their opportunity to show off their creative costumes and make-up skills.
Elisa Zapata, 14, of Egg Harbor City, started her make-up early in the morning. She used dark gauze to make her eye socket look like a gaping hole, and red make-up to give the illusion of blood dripping down her chin.
“I just love zombie walks,” said Zapata, who attends the Smithville walk annually as well as one in Asbury Park. “I like getting really creative with my costume and seeing how people react. There is the initial scare and then the shock of what they are seeing. It’s so conflicted.”
The Smithville Zombie Walk was presented by Underground. The free event opened at 11 a.m. and included about 30 vendors on the Village Green, the Miss Underground Zombie Pin-up contest and live music by the Black Flamingos and Primitive Finks.
At dusk, zombies congregated in front of the Underground and trudged through the village. Youngsters gazed in bewilderment, and shoppers rushed to the sidewalks to see the lumbering procession. Some zombies enhanced the experience by stumbling toward the crowds before shifting back down the path.
Katie and Danny Embrich of Tuckerton attend every year. Their wedding anniversary is on Halloween so the Zombie Walk gives them a fun way to celebrate. She usually dresses as a zombie bride, but this year the couple came as biker zombies.
“It’s a community event to bring people together,” said Mike Spagnola, co-owner of Underground. “Sometimes there are about 500 people doing the same thing at the same time. It’s cool to see.”
Pam and Don Delessio of Mullica Hill amazed the crowd with their version of Little Red Riding Hood. Her dress was covered in blood as she led him, chained and dressed as a headless wolf, through the village all while carrying his head in a basket.
Linda Polites of Seaside Heights made her own creepy zombie marionette costume that was complete with scary eyes, chunky pieces of flesh and deep scars. “I love dressing up. I try to outdo myself every year,” said Polites.
The Raffle of the Living Dead was held after the walk and included countless prizes that were donated by area shops.