Isn’t it just like a zombie not to stay dead?
Barely a week after we reported that the organizers of the popular Village Invasion zombie crawl were calling off this year’s event, a local resident emerged with a plan to save it. But not everyone is thrilled.
Over the course of the past four years, the event became quite an undertaking. It billed itself as the largest zombie crawl in the Northeast, it raised money for charity, had live music, was well insured and well policed — with a costly DOT permit to keep Partition St. closed off to keep things safe and festive — and well marketed. Organizer Neal Smoller said the cost had ballooned to $5,000 in 2013 and was anticipated to be $6,000 this year. He found local business owners less than forthcoming with money to help put on the event. Only a few chose to match the amounts Smoller suggested ($750 from all bars and restaurants and $300 from other businesses), and so each year of the event, despite its success, he ate some of the cost. So this year he decided to pull the plug.
Enter Saugerties resident Ted Titus. Along with a group of volunteers, Titus is organizing this year’s crawl, slated for Saturday, Oct. 18. According to Titus, the organizers “don’t need any permits this year,” because the street won’t be blocked. Their flier says as much, informing participants to “Please Use Caution when crawling the streets this year” in order to “respect our spooky town.” Titus hopes to raise enough money to block the streets next year. Plans at this time don’t include paying for police overtime or insurance.
Though Titus claims to have the support of the mayor and police, those officials tell a different story. “I don’t think they have a grasp for how large of an event this could be,” said Police Chief Joe Sinagra. (Past crowds were estimated at around 5,000.) Because previous events covered overtime for the officers present, any police presence at an event that could draw thousands would be paid for by the taxpayers, which Sinagra says is “not fair.”
Ultimately, says Mayor Bill Murphy, the event can go on whether the organizers take precautions or not. “That’s freedom of assembly, there’s nothing we can do about that.” But without insurance, paid police coverage, ambulances, and the like, local government officials are not feeling too positive about the event as planned. “Quite frankly,” said Sinagra, “I’m concerned.”