PHOENIX – After seven years, the Downtown Phoenix Zombie Walk is no more.
The annual walk usually takes place the last Saturday before Halloween, but now the face paint, ripped clothing, live music and beer gardens will only be a spooky memory. Downtown Phoenix Inc. announced Sunday that the event would not be happening this year.
“We were never able to make it cost efficient or sustainable financially. Also we’ve outgrown the park to some extent,” R.J. Price, vice president of marketing communications and events at Downtown Phoenix Inc., said.
“If money weren’t an object and our staff capacity was different, we would love to continue the event.”
Held at Heritage and Science Park, last year the 20,000 zombie attendees almost breached capacity.
Attempts to move Zombie Walk to a larger venue and allocate enough funding and personnel fell short with less than six months to go until the next walk.
The two full-time event staff were also no longer able to keep up with the managing, maintaining and planning of such a large event.
“It’s a tremendous, tremendous amount of work for a fairly small staff,” Price said. “We don’t hire production companies. We do pretty much everything in house, and it takes about six months to work toward one day.”
The walk featured live music all day, vendors, a space to borrow zombie costumes and get makeup done and more. The event sprung to life in 2009, started by a group of Downtown Phoenix Inc. employees who wanted to dress up as zombies to scare people on the streets.
The walk attracted a loyal following.
“The outcry is mostly, ‘How could you do this? My family looks forward to this every year,’” Price said.
“And I do feel really bad about that. I hope that in time people can see and understand why we’re doing this.”
Despite the unfortunate news, Price was happy Zombie Walk ended on a high note. The 2015 walk donated 11 tons of food to St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance.
“I don’t think we could ever do an event of that size and that scope and have that much positivity for a one-night event without any incidents ever again,” Price said.
“It’s kind of like that mic drop moment where you’re just like, ‘OK, it’s as good as it’s ever going to get, let’s go out on a high on our own terms and leave downtown better than we found it.’”
Price said other organizations can step in and bring the event back to life in the future and his group would be happy to support the efforts.