The undead stumbled through the streets of Tel Aviv Saturday night for the city’s annual Zombie Walk, with participants made conspicuous by severed limbs, blood-spattered bodies and tattered clothes in a display of gore held each year in the White City at the onset of the Purim holiday.
Dozens of Israelis decked out in zombie costumes congregated near the Dizengoff Mall in central Tel Aviv before making their way down the posh Rothschild Avenue, accosting bewildered and bemused passersby.
The march was mostly made up of young Israelis and tourists, though some parents also carried zombie children down the street. The walking dead toted chains, blood-soaked baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire and other zombies tethered to leashes.
Some were elaborately costumed, with horror movie-worthy face paint and broken bottles jutting out of foreheads, while others simply held signs demanding brains.
Other Purim-goers – superheroes, Jedi warriors, Rosie the Riveters and Fred Flintstones included – mingled with the zombies before the parade reached a street party at the intersection of Rothschild Avenue and Allenby Street.
Based on the story of the Book of Esther, Purim celebrates the thwarted genocide of the Jews in ancient Persia. Wearing costumes is a prominent feature of the holiday.
Zombie Walks first appeared in North America in the early 2000s and became widespread with the growing popularity of zombie movies, such as “28 Days Later,” “Dawn of the Dead” and “Zombieland.” The “World War Z” film in 2013, starring Brad Pitt and hordes of virus-infected zombies, is set partially in Israel (although filming took place in Malta) and features an Israeli protagonist.
In 2014, 15,458 zombies gathered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, setting the Guinness World Record for the “largest gathering of zombies.”
Zombie Walks sometime involve a local angle, such as Israel’s event coinciding with the Purim holiday. Brazil’s Zombie Walk takes place during the country’s Day of the Dead, a national holiday. There have been events at the Monroeville Mall in Pennsylvania, the setting for George A. Romero’s 1978 cult classic “Dawn of the Dead.”