For over a decade, hordes of zombies have descended on downtown Durango every Halloween, just as the clocks strikes midnight. But these zombies are different from the ones you may have seen in The Walking Dead or Zombieland.
The hordes of undead are actually a combination of students, Durango residents and whomever finds themselves swept up in their midst as they march down Main Street, chanting“Whose Streets? Our Streets!”
Whitney McClain has a unique perspective on the event, as a former Fort Lewis College student and Residential Advisor who now works in administration at the Durango Police Department she understands both sides of the coin, she said.
“It’s one of those things that happens every year, if you're a bystander it's kind of neat if you like people watching,” McClain says about her thoughts on the event.
“One year, one of my exchange students got pepper sprayed,” McClain describes a particularly difficult time being an RA during the march. “Having to help him navigate through you know what being pepper sprayed is, how to treat it.”
Partying in Durango on Halloween night was something that happened long before the first Zombie March in 2008.
Fist fights, public urination, drunk driving, trampling and even an explosive going off in a crowd were some of the issues that led the city to decide to end these early Halloween parties according to an article from 2008 in the Durango Herald.
Longtime Starlight bartender Matt McDermott has witnessed many zombie marches go down first-hand, and recalls its humble beginnings, “When it first started it was, you know a fun thing, yeah, we get a little drunk, walk down the street, we have a little march, everyones in their costume, we have a good time.”
2011 is a year that stands out when discussing the history of the march.
McClain recalls, “2011 was kind of the rougher years, nobody expected it, it just started happening.”
With over 1,500 zombies marching, twenty-two arrests were made when it was all said and done, the Durango Herald reported.
DPD employee McClain explains how the annual march has changed since then, “Now that we have a handle on it, um its just one of things where a bunch of college kids just walk up and down main street.”
Former FLC student, MacCracken, speculates that the mere presence of the police incites and invites tension.
“Yeah, I just remember a lot of young people hopped up on the spirit of Halloween and yeah, weird, weird tension between the cops and the people. But at the same time, I feel if there was no cops, there would be almost nothing happening, you know?”
There will absolutely be a presence from the Durango Police Department this year. DPD Employee, Whitney McClain, details what to expect from the police this year.
“We just put extra security on Main, just in case anything crazy happens or gets out of hand,” DPD employee McClain said. “So Halloween, we just make sure that there's extra patrol. Down on Main we'll probably have a couple of officers at certain blocks around where the rowdier bars are.”
McClain also suggests sticking with a familiar horde.
“It's going to be crowded,” McClain said. “So just kind of stick to a group of people that you know, have somebody sober that's there so that they have the right state of mind and just have fun.”
Bartender, Matt McDermott, also offers some sage advice for any future zombies.
“It’s an issue of people not understanding their own limits, no matter where they are from,” said McDermott “I think that’s the biggest issue. I encourage people to party, have a good time, enjoy themselves but know their limits, think about drinking water along with your alcohol.”
Hopefully with Matt and Whitney's advice, Zombies in the march will have no reason to worry about getting in trouble with the police.