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FORT WAYNE —
Not to be mistaken for the ’90s heavy metal musician Rob Zombie, but 50-year-old Rob Blackburn, in whiteface, vein-baring zombie makeup, was the first to down four “brains,” which consisted of hard white chocolate and cherry filling, which resembled gooey blood from a distance.
“They’re really good,” he said, “but that outer coating is really hard.”
It was just one of the several events on a cloudy-then-sunny-then-cloudy Saturday on the plaza of the Allen County Public Library, which was the launching site of the Downtown Improvement District’s sixth annual Fright Night.
A few hours later, an estimated 2,500 gruesome monsters – maybe more, since all sorts of undead men and women, boys and ghouls were piling out of cars at the last minute – limped and lurched their way down Wayne Street for the much-anticipated Zombie Walk.
Shane Duncan, in full zombie regalia along with his wife, Miranda, sons Damyan, Sebastyn and Atticus – 6, 5 and 3 – and nephew Zach, rehearsed his walk by stretching out his arms and dragging his leg.
“You let the kids get out in front, and you just chase the kids,” he said of his zombie style.
Many had arrived dressed for the occasion, milling around the plaza area.
There were zombie brides with their blood-stained white dresses; zombies with knives through their heads; zombies with … something … protruding from their stomachs; zombies whose ghastly smiles were sideways; and zombies with one eye. There was a nun zombie and – yikes! – a Cleveland Browns zombie, even though the Browns have been dead for years.
Long before 2 p.m., a line formed outside the long tent where artists from T.A.G. Art Company provided an assembly line of horror.
First came the airbrushed whiteface makeup for the ghoulish base. Move two steps to the left, and the eye sockets are given a gray pall. Go left again, and the proper amount of blood is applied, both on the face and hands and anywhere else that seems appropriate. Keep moving. Then comes the blue-tinted veins across the face and temples. And the horrible-looking thing at the end of the line did the final touch-up.
Then just to make sure the new zombie was satisfied as it exited the other end of the tent, there was another zombie holding up a mirror.
“We do about one every 35 seconds. I timed it,” said Rachel Schwartz, T.A.G. Art’s director of marketing.
At 5 p.m., a half-hour before all the zombies converged for their walk, there was still a line of 50 or so zombie wannabes waiting to get in.
A block east, behind Cindy’s Diner, younger zombies were hotly involved in a hula hoop contest. The winner was 15-year-old Kaylee Scott, a sophomore at Homestead. “It’s my third Fright Night,” she said. And she, too, was zombiefied.
Back up the street, Red Cross volunteer Erin McDonald waited for donors outside the bloodmobile.
In bold letters, across the top of the bus, read “Please Give Blood.” “The vampires love to pose next to the sign,” McDonald said.