Windsor Zombie Walk Mutates Into Special Scarehouse Zombie Maze Experience
Ironically, in the grip of the COVID-19 virus, this year’s Windsor Zombie Walk (WZW) has mutated into an indoor event to be held inside Scarehouse Windsor’s new Zombie Maze attraction, in support of the Downtown Mission and Windsor Youth Centre, on Sat. Oct. 17, 2020.
The beginning of the global pandemic, resembling the early days of a “zombie apocalypse” commonly depicted in fictional movies and T.V. shows, caught the attention of WZW organizers. While some people hoarded toilet paper and busy city streets became eerily empty, WZW organizers put planning this year’s event on hold.
After monitoring provincial government pandemic guidelines, organizers decided to make changes so the event can happen safely. For the first time since WZW was founded in 2006, instead of gathering as a group and walking through the streets of Windsor, the event will be held indoors, inside Scarehouse Windsor’s third haunted attraction, Zombie Maze. For a donation of non-perishable food items or cash benefitting the Downtown Mission, people can go through the new Scarehouse Zombie Maze. In addition, those who come dressed as zombies or apocalypse survivors can spend some time in the role of actors within Zombie Maze. Space is limited for either option, social distancing and masks are mandatory, small groups limited to their social bubble will be booked for different time blocks, and participants must register ahead of time by contacting Scarehouse Windsor by email.
“Usually, you have to go into the main Scarehouse attraction (Scared Evil Haunted House) and then you can purchase admission to one or both of the add on attractions (Haunted Darkness and Zombie Maze),” explains Scarehouse Windsor co-owner, Shawn Lipert. ”But on Windsor Zombie Walk night people can bring in at least two canned goods or make a monetary donation and they can go right into the Zombie Maze without having to go into Scared Evil first.”
“Each year people are encouraged to dress as zombies for Windsor Zombie Walk and that’s no different this year. Instead of walking they are invited to be an actual part of the Scarehouse Zombie Maze attraction. They will be able to scare people who go through the maze on that night. Only a limited number of people in small groups can participate, contact Scarehouse by email to book a time slot.”
“Once you’re booked you can let your family and friends know you’re dressed as a zombie and will be inside the Zombie Maze and they can come and see you. All they have to do is show up and bring two canned goods. They don’t even have to dress up! Unless they want too.”
“You don’t even have to know anyone inside the zombie maze. Anyone can show up with two canned goods and go inside the Zombie Maze for free.”
Like this year, WZW has been in jeopardy in the past. Founded in 2006, the popularity of the event grew to hundreds of participants by 2013. The original organizer decided not to hold the event in 2014 because he didn’t want to deal with the logistics and permits required to run a large event. Instead of letting this community event come to an end, Micheal Reeve created a mascot to be the spokesperson, or as he calls it, “the ringleader whose face people can associate with Windsor Zombie Walk, someone that can interact with them.” Reeve took on the role of cursed zombie pirate Captain Hindgrinder to keep the event alive that year! In 2015 Reeve handed the event off to a new organizer who cancelled at the last minute citing a family emergency. In 2016, Reeve as Captain Hindgrinder and his undead crew rose from the depths of the Detroit River to lead the walk once again. The following year 2017, Reeve was not able to participate due to health reasons but passed the responsibility of organizing the walk to supporter Lori Deschaine. Unfortunately, in 2018 the event did not happen. Determined to keep this event going Eric Bonnici of Eyes On Windsor and his daughter Brianna Bonnici, longtime participants of the event, reached out to Reeve offering to help with the event in 2019. Reeve had already been approached by George Des Rosiers of Geekpool Windsor (a local Deadpool and Cosplay enthusiast community). Shortly after Shawn Lippert of Scarehouse Windsor reached out offering to help keep Windsor Zombie Walk alive for years to come. These five individuals make up the event organizing committee.
In addition, Scarehouse Windsor became the presenting sponsor of the event both last year and this year.
Due to the pandemic, and venue and event theme changes, Reeve felt he needed to change the mascot as well. He created Big Bob, who he describes as, “a hillbilly redneck apocalypse survivor” who guides other survivors through a compound he has filled with zombies. “Bob was created out of that necessity to change it up a bit and he’s a fun character,” explains Reeve. “So as it stands now, Big Bob is in and Hindgrinder is in the waters. He’s still in the Detroit River, he’s waiting, he’s popping out some feelers, some tentacles, every now and then. But right now loud mouth Big Bob is in control, he’s wrangled up some zombies because he’s bored, he’s got spitters, and he’s got bitters.”
Scarehouse co-owner Shawn Lippert loved the Big Bob character so much that he wanted him to not only be the mascot of WZW but also of the Scarehouse Zombie Maze for the whole season. On Scarehouse’s opening weekend (Sept. 26 & 27) Reeve says, “immediately the first group to enter Zombie Maze wanted to take pictures with Big Bob.”
Reeve’s involvement with the walk took the event in a family friendly community based direction. “Although there was always a food drive element involved, the previous organizer was targeting mainly the college/university crowd and the walk sponsors were mainly bars and nightclubs.“ Reeve has been successfully attracting people of all ages including families with children over the past few years. He also added the Windsor Youth Centre, now under the umbrella of the Downtown Mission, as a benefactor of the event.
“I was homeless in the past in Hamilton for about a year,” said Reeve. “I had a youth centre help me out so I wanted to give back to the community by giving to the Windsor Youth Centre. But now since the Windsor Youth Centre is married to the Downtown Mission it made things easier to focus everything towards one organization that envelops both. I owe a lot to a similar organization that helped keep me fed and clean, gave me what I needed to survive while I was in the situation that I was in, I wanted to give to an organization that does the same thing. One day there could be another Micheal out there who could need someone to help them out and get them on their feet in life.”
Anyone who is unable to participate in WZW but would still like to support the event can make a donation through the Downtown Mission website.
Scarehouse Windsor is located in a 109 year old creepy crumbling commercial building at 1441 McDougall Ave. The venue features 3 haunted attractions which include the Scared Evil Haunted House, Haunted Darkness and Zombie Maze. New this year, formerly of Mezzo Ristorante, Chef Ryan Castellano is catering a “Cursed Dinner Experience” on weekends inside an allegedly haunted and angry dining room located on the second floor of Scarehouse. Dinner reservations must be made in advance by contacting Scarehouse.
Remaining dates and times of operation for Scarehouse this season include:
- Fri. Oct. 9, 7 p.m. – midnight
- Sat. Oct. 10, 7 p.m. – midnight
- Sun. Oct. 11, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
- Thurs. Oct. 15, 7 p.m. – 11 p.m.
- Fri. Oct. 16, 6 p.m. – midnight
- Sat. Oct. 17, 6 p.m. – midnight (WZW night)
- Sun. Oct. 18, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
- Thurs. Oct. 22, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
- Fri. Oct. 23, 6 p.m. – midnight
- Sat. Oct. 24, 6 p.m. – midnight
- Sun. Oct. 25, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
- Mon. Oct. 26, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
- Tues. Oct. 27, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
- Wed. Oct. 28, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
- Thurs. Oct. 29, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
- Fri. Oct. 30, 6 p.m. – midnight
- Sat. Oct. 31, 7 p.m. – midnight
Windsor Zombie Walk takes place inside Scarehouse Windsor’s Zombie Maze on Sat. Oct. 17 from 6 p.m. to midnight. People brave enough to experience the Zombie Maze and / or participate as actors inside the attraction as part of this special night must book a time slot by emailing Scarehouse Windsor at [email protected]
Non-perishable food items and monetary donations to benefit the Downtown Mission and Windsor Youth Centre.