Every city has a plan for a variety of emergencies like fires, floods, and earthquakes or hurricanes depending on location. Should downtown San Jose ever get hit with a zombie outbreak, downtown will be quite ready for them thanks to its annual Zombie-O-Rama crawl.
Usually on the last Wednesday of August each year (August 31st for 2011), the SoFA district in downtown San Jose gets invaded by zombies who wander around town, check out the local horror arts and entertainment scene, watch a zombie movie outdoors among citizens and fellow zombies, and perhaps have a late night zombie crawl towards the late night bars and restaurants. While most of the participants of Zombie-O-Rama are just people dressed as zombies, unofficial reports of actual zombies have occasionally sneaked in unnoticed.
So close to the appropriately named Gore Park in San Jose, SLG Publishing Art Boutiki & Gallery serves as the HQ for Zombie-o-Rama where the zombies congregate. Killing time before their undead shamble around San Jose, they can mingle with other wannabe zombies and get their zombie make-up on for a nominal fee. It’s also an excellent opportunity to peruse the independently published books on hand. Come to think of it, the entire undead event helps bring new life into the downtown San Jose area on a Wednesday as various bars and restaurants set up drink or dining deals themed for the living and undead.
Having crawled with zombies before, it’s an interesting experience. I’m not used to wearing make-up, never mind zombie make-up, so that took lots of time to get used to. And it is an interesting sight seeing a variety of zombie costumes based on a similar premise of decaying flesh walking around brainless and only thinking of eating brains. Some dress as zombies akin to a George A. Romero film. Others go for the more modern movie zombies like “Zombieland” or video games like “Plants vs. Zombies.” Then there are some creative joke zombies like Michael Jackson and other celebrities who would be truly horrifying as undead.
For what is portrayed as a chaotic bloodbath in movies, Zombie-O-Rama is quite coordinated and organized with its schedule. Routes are provided for zombies to trudge through as well as a schedule. This year includes a Young Zombie Parade, live music, costume contests, zombie fashion show, and the outdoor movie screening of “Fido.” Rules are even imposed so that zombies do not hit businesses who don’t want to participate. Restaurants who do participate offer discounted drinks or food to the infected zombies.
Probably the only issue with Zombie-O-Rama is how long the line for getting zombie make-up is. Come early because the effects are really worth the wait but you don’t want to wait so long that you miss the chance to actually show it off during the mass crawl. Alternatively, you could prep your zombie make up before arriving.
So if you have an appetite for brains, an affinity for the zombie phenomenon, or just want something different to do and see in downtown San Jose, check out Zombie-O-Rama.