Photo illustration by Zak Brady

We give up a lot of things as we grow older: putting out cookies for Santa Claus, leaving teeth under the pillow for the tooth fairy, having hopes and dreams, etc. One tradition we stubbornly cling onto, however, is dressing up and wandering around for Halloween. Of course, like everything we drag from childhood to adulthood, we made it alcohol-infused and hypersexualized.

Reno’s 10th annual Zombie Crawl took place on Saturday, Oct. 21. Patrons paid $5 for a green cup and the privilege to pay more money for drinks at participating locations. It’s just like trick-or-treating except at every house you have to wait in a 30-minute line and instead of candy  you get Pabst Blue Ribbon.

43 bars took part in the festivities and approximately 20,000 people showed up (22 of which were arrested). Some bars had gimmicks in order to attract more people: Cal Neva had karaoke, St. James Infirmary had a 90s dance party and several bars had costume contests. Drunk people really are very similar to zombies; they stumble around through the night, dead-eyed, but instead of pursuing human flesh they just want more Bacardi. The crawl ran until six in the morning. I did not have the stamina to stay out that late, but I am amused by the thought of zombies with smeared makeup trying to convince other zombies to come home with them as the sun begins to peer over the Sierra Nevadas, then trudging to Mel’s after being rejected.

There was a wide range of effort people put into their costumes. Some people went all out: fake blood, colored contacts, ripped clothing, crazy hair, ghoulish makeup, etc. It was fantastic to see people genuinely work hard on their costumes. Other people wore an eye patch. Some would call these people “lame.”

Who’s to say?

Me? Oh, I wore this awesome headband that makes it look like there’s an axe sticking out of my head. It’s really the perfect costume. It’s easy to put on. It’s a little spooky, but not too spooky. You can walk up to people and proclaim, “I have a splitting headache!” That usually receives a polite chuckle. I also wore a very tasteful Halloween-themed sweater vest with pumpkins and ghosts stitched in. All of this is courtesy of Junkee Clothing Exchange in Midtown.

I do come bearing bad news, though. I awoke Sunday morning devoid of my axe headband. I have nebulous recollections of it snapping and me discarding it on the ground of whatever bar I was at. RIP axe headband. You have served me well.

Sierra Taphouse wins for spookiest playlist, bumping the likes of “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell and “A Nightmare On My Street” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. Most other bars’ playlists fell short of anything resembling spooky, resorting instead for a flimsy smattering of contemporary dancehall hits. One wonders how many times a person can physically hear “Bodak Yellow” by Cardi B before losing their mind.

This doesn’t really relate to anything, but 5 Star is the best bar in Reno and it’s not even up for discussion at this point. Where else can you go to see people smoking cigarettes inside and dancing on stripper poles while DMX music videos play?

There was a moment as I sat in Imperial and people-watched from the deep recesses of my mind. Costumed drunkards were stacking an absurd amount of glasses, beer foam lingering at the bottom, on top of each other for no reason except their own amusement. Climactically, as a surprise to no one, the leaning tower of PBR toppled over and shattered. The group giggled and scampered off. It was a testament to the human condition, our lust for arbitrary thrills and destruction. Or something. I don’t know. I was drunk. What do you want from me?

The biggest drawback to the Zombie Crawl is the long lines. As the university expands and Tesla draws workers and Schieve tries so desperately to make Reno feel more Californian, the world’s Biggest Little City becomes more inflated and cramped. It seemed symbolic that most people skipped the casino stops and started their crawl downtown.

The lines were so long, in fact, someone could have, oh, I don’t know, taken the leftover Black Velvet a friend left at his (or her) house during a staff Halloween party and pour it into a crumpled water bottle and drink it while waiting. But if that someone was so audacious and brilliant, then he (or she) could never admit it in a publication because it is illegal to drink publicly from open containers.

All in all, I truly believe the Zombie Crawl is a positive thing. People, including myself, get so excited for Halloween. People fundamentally love to be spooked. It’s cathartic to put on a mask, pretend to be someone else, let loose and galavant around with your friends through the nighttime. If events like Zombie Crawl allow people to get in touch with their inner child and take themselves less seriously, if only for a night, then God bless. Viva la Halloween. Viva la Zombie Crawl.