Each year, the Village Invasion Zombie Crawl turns the village of Saugerties into a playground for the undead, so it’s fitting organizers will use proceeds from this year’s event to help fund an effort to rebuild the Small World playground at Cantine Field.
The fourth annual invasion kicks off at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19. The Invasion is “the largest zombie event of its kind in the Northeastern United States… part horror film reenactment, part pub crawl, part community celebration,” according to its website. Event organizer and Saugerties native, Jaimee Moxham, aka Captain Cruella, says last year the event drew as many as 4,500 people.
This year’s theme is Carnival of the Dead, so expect to see zombie clowns (making their best balloon animals), stilt walkers, magicians of the dark arts, flame and sword swallowers, and the like.
Gift bags will be awarded for best costumes in the categories of best group, best couple, best kids, and scariest.
Kingston-based punk rock band Tigeriss will perform on an outdoor stage at the corner of Main and Partition at 8 p.m. Nearby, funk-rock band Voodelic promises to play a spooky black-light show at Dave’s Wine & Coffee House starting at 9 p.m. Live music can also be heard at Main Street Restaurant.
Hudson Valley Dessert Company owner Constance Bailey says the event is more than a costumed pub crawl. “Last year, folks of all ages came,” she said. “We stayed open late and we will again this year, serving ‘brains’ and scary cookies.”
Sweet treats can also be found at Lucky Chocolates, which will be hosting its Mad Scientist Laboratory once again this year. Fellow sponsor Brine Barrel Pickle Company is also among the list of businesses that will stay open late during the festivities.
Additional vendors will include Spyda Adams and Spray Blood. Cantine Haunted Estates, a haunted house attraction at 455 Washington Ave., will coincide with the Invasion. Admission to the Estates is an additional $15.
“It all started as a fun way to incorporate my love for my hometown and my love for Halloween,” says Moxham. Every year the event has grown, with several co-organizers joining the team. This year the full committee includes Moxham’s partner Brian Solomon, author of the Vault of Horror blog, Neal Smoller, owner of the Village Apothecary, and Perri Naccarato of the Computer Guys.
In 2012, Invasion organizers estimate they raised around $3,000. This year, they hope to raise $5,000. “That would be a tremendous goal,” says Moxham. “Even more would be amazing.”
Cost of admission is just $2, with proceeds to benefit a rebuilding of the Small World playground. Computer Guys owner and Invasion co-organizer, Perri Naccarato, says choosing Small World as the beneficiary this year was a no-brainer. “[Neal] Smoller and I both have children and our children play in the local playgrounds, so when Mr. Smoller had to choose, of course it was the one closest to us that could accommodate his Smoller tribe.” (Smoller and his wife are the proud parents
of four small children).
Since its inception in 2010, the Invasion has become a nonprofit. Moxham says, “The event’s focus has always been to give back to the community in a fun way. As the event has gotten more popular, so has the need for more security, more help, more everything. As a nonprofit we’re able to seek granting and be continually improving.”
Chief of Police Joseph Sinagra says that event organizers have indeed had to pay the wages for seven Saugerties officers to be present at the event. Additionally, three state troopers and Sinagra himself will be in attendance (though, Sinagra says he won’t be paid overtime for attending). Sinagra says the number of officers needed for the event was determined by the presence of alcohol and the occurrence of a few incidents at past events. He said last year there was only one alcohol-related incident.
Sinagra says the main concern has been certain zombie costume accessories. One year, one attendee brought a gun, while another attendee brought a chainsaw (with the blade attached). Sinagra advises that participants this year also not bring real swords or any similar weapons.
The event will be recorded by surveillance cameras and monitored on closed-circuit television at the police station’s new Live Crime Center.
Main and Partition streets will be closed to traffic during the event.