AshevilleNews Stories

Night of the Dancing Dead leads to Halloween

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Eric Kuzniar, 40, of Hendersonville, stumbles on stage in character to get his zombie costume contest prize. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Hundreds danced in unison to Michael Jackson’s hit “Thriller,” which had its own zombie-clad horde in a classic 13-minute short film. It was released on Dec. 2, 1983, as MTV’s first world premiere video. Zombies were instructed in the moves, before doing the dance.

The free family-friendly festivities were at Roger McGuire Green in the 6.5 acre Pack Square Park, lasting two hours on Oct. 11 in conjunction with World Zombie Day.


Hundreds of angry, brain-hungry zombies converge in Asheville and dance to “Thriller,” as the featured Zombiewalk activity ahead of Halloween spooking. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Locally, there was no organized group walking dead. People did roam the streets in the scavenger hunt, the final event. First, hundreds dressed as zombies posed together for group photos. Next were the dance lessons and dance.

Then there was the costume contest, with divisions for adults and for children 15 and younger. Contestants paraded across the stage. Children typically dragged their feet for only a few steps, then scampered the rest of the way.


Patrick Milliken, with a brain-devoured infant doll, proves true “they eat their young.” Photo by Pete Zamplas.

In contrast, adult winner Eric Kuzniar, 40, of Hendersonville delighted onlookers and judges by staying in character all evening. His characterization was literally quite a “drag.” The bald-headed one dragged a foot, with a pad on the shoe bottom to ease scraping on cement.

Stephan McLaughlin, who works in Flat Rock Playhouse props, got a detailed gruesome makeup job from a FRP colleague. Patrick Milliken, with a brainless infant doll, proves true that “they eat their young.” April Morley went around with a platter, serving “jello brains.”


Wes Davidson howls, in the costume contest. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Brianna Rogers, 14, of Hendersonville, danced about peacefully as a girl zombified at a costume ball. She made her face look bloodied. Several said they go to comic book conventions. Some came from out of town.

The finale was a scavenger hunt in downtown Asheville. Contestants had to email photo proof they satisfied at least 10 of the 15 checklist items or eight in the family category. Contestants said they most enjoyed the task of scaring a stranger they encountered in public — usually on downtown streets. Scavenger adult winners were Alex and Michelle Neff.

For more on the event, check

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