Brains were on the mind and, for some, the menu Saturday night, as thousands of partiers gathered for the fifth annual Zombie Pub Crawl through the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
First descending on Grumpy’s Bar and ending at the Cabooze with a post-party DJ set, the crawl promised to be the biggest and goriest yet — and it didn’t disappoint.
This year, an estimated 5,000 partiers swarmed the streets groaning for brains, booze and a good time. Local bar owners said the crawl boosted business, bringing in unmatched profits for most.
Nate Hackney , a senior ecology major, roamed the West Bank as a 1980s zombie for his first zombie pub crawl Saturday night.
“It’s zombie time,” he said. “My friends and I went all out for this. One friend dressed as a dead MC Hammer, with a boom box on his shoulder … A 50-year-old lady got out of her car at a stop light and started dancing with him, which was definitely worth walking in the cold to see.”
Zombies moved from drink special to drink special throughout the night, beginning at 4 p.m. at Gold Medal Park where humans turned dead with an hour of “zombifying.”
West Bank bars like the Acadia Café and the Corner Bar were among 15 participating bars in the crawl.
Julianna Bryarly , owner of the Acadia Café, said that the crawl is the most profitable and busiest night of the year for her business.
“It’s a unique opportunity to host so many people from all backgrounds in one night,” she said. “This was our second year participating since we moved locations, and I know that there will be many more to come.”
The Acadia Café tempted zombies into its realm by serving “smoked limbs” (turkey legs) and a beer called “Dead Guy Ale” until there was no more left. Bands such as Hunger Bone and Butcher’s Bag played throughout the night for hoards of zombie brides and an occasional undead Nazi.
“It just so happens that the bands’ names worked so well with the crawl’s theme,” Bryarly said.
The Corner Bar offered its undead customers hours of “zombieoke” and a $3 Pabst Blue Ribbon drink special.
“We’re just on the way during their trek down the area’s streets, but we enjoy being in the way,” said Tommy Thompson , manager of the Corner Bar, which has participated in the crawl for three years.
“It is great business and a fun way for people to get into the [spirit of Halloween],” he said. “The crawl always attracts us good business during an already busy time of year because of the football and baseball seasons.”
Zombies that stumbled into the Nomad were greeted with the “satanic surf-rock” sounds of the band Lusurfer , playing devilish songs from Black Sabbath and Megadeth for bar-goers. Outside, undead men battled each other on a bocce ball court.
“The Nomad was the place to be. The lines to get in were crazy,” said University alumnus Kareem Ahmed , who couldn’t get into the bar due to the lines.
MC/VL , a Minneapolis-based hip-hop duo, also performed at the Cabooze.
“[The Cabooze] delivered this year,” Ahmed said. “I spent a few bucks at the Goodwill for a costume and came out to have a good time.”
The Minneapolis Fire Department responded to overcrowding at Preston’s Urban Pub , a Seven Corners bar.
“This is the craziest night of the year on the West Bank,” said Kurt Rasmussen , 28, of Minneapolis. “I’ve been waiting since last October for the Zombie Pub Crawl.”
Hackney said the crawl is more than a good time and that he will participate in the future.
“This is a community event,” he said. “It’s perfect for anyone who wants to try something a little different than what’s typical.”