By Jesse Marx
By Chris Parker
By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By the time the sun went down on October 9, 2010, Carik knew they had finally gone too far.
This was the first year they started charging admission for the crawl, and they thought the $5 fee would thin the crowds from the previous year, when a record 7,000 zombies showed up.
Then 12,000 people came.
Even in the darkness, Carik could see the hordes of blood-soaked zombies ready to destroy the West Bank, their gray and white makeup reflecting brightly in the street lights. A car drove by, and zombies swarmed it, jumping on the hood and vomiting fake blood on the windshield.
We're fucked, he thought. The riot police are on their way, and we are all going to jail.
"We gotta shut it down! We gotta shut it down!" Carik called out to his friends. "We gotta get these people outta here!"
But it was too late — if they tried to call it off now, the mob would descend into bedlam. Instead, the organizers herded the masses down Cedar Avenue toward the Cabooze, away from the busy streets of Seven Corners.
The cops never came that night, but the next day the entire West Bank was coated in fake blood, and plastic fish bowls from Sgt. Preston's signature drink filled the intersection. Grumpy's had to replace its floor due to damage from the crawl.
"It looked like a war zone," says Holt.
After that chaotic night, Zombie Pub Crawl finally caught the attention of city officials. Ever since, hosting Zombie Pub Crawl has been a full-time job. What began as an excuse to get drunk and act like a zombie with friends is now one of the biggest annual events in Minneapolis, and takes months of planning.
"We're in this world of shit," says Carik, noting he's been trying to sell the crawl. "It takes thousands of hours of discussions.... There's nothing we can do that's going to make some people happy with the event."
Driving to New Ulm in Carik's Ford Bronco, Ackerman passes the time by reading aloud some of the messages people have sent them through Twitter and Facebook.
One woman was charged for eight tickets instead of two, and complained that Zombie Pub Crawl was responsible for her not being able to pay rent.
A collective sigh passes through the car.
The most common gripe is about the price, which began at $20 this year, and recently graduated to $22. There's been so much dissent about the admission this year that someone actually started a counter zombie pub crawl in Anoka.
"They're like, 'I didn't pay the first five years, why should I have to pay now?'" says Holt. "And we're like, 'Because now there's 30,000 people there.'"
By the time they reach Schell's, the brewery has already finished canning the Brain Belt, and is prepping the 50,000 cans for shipping. An employee leads them through the building to where the cases are kept, and everyone lights up at the sight.
"It's pretty awesome," says Ackerman. "It's like, fuck yeah!"
Ackerman posts a picture of the gold, zombie-stamped can to Facebook, and it's quickly met with a deluge of likes and positive comments. Even the normally dour Carik is excited to see the final product.
"How cool is this?" he says, as the Schell's employee begins to give them a private tour of the brewery.
But asked whether the signature beer can changes his mind about the event, Carik catches himself.
"I still hate Zombie Pub Crawl."