If they were still in their graves, zombies would be rolling over, confused by the kerfuffle caused by the popular annual event.
Here’s the situation as it stands this week: There will be a Zombie Crawl in the village on Saturday, Oct. 18 from 6–10 p.m. (A Zombie Crawl is an event in which people dress up like zombies and walk around a circumscribed area, usually from bar to bar.) Admission will be $5 that night, $3 in advance. Partition St. will not be closed to vehicle traffic because of complaints of lost business from some merchants; Main St. might be if the state grants a permit. After a sit-down with village officials, organizers agreed to pay for extra police presence, ambulance and insurance — hence the admission price.
While previous events included coordination with businesses regarding themed activities, live outdoor music, and costume contests, at this point the event promotions make no mention of anything similar planned for this year.
Confusion surrounding street closure, safety, admission price, and whether the event was really happening has swirled over the past few weeks. The tempest in a goblet began when Village Apothecary owner Neal Smoller, who has operated the Zombie Crawl the last several years, decided not to stage the event this year because of the expense, time required, and lack of financial support from bar and restaurant owners, who he says benefited most from the event.
At that point, local resident and zombie aficionado Ted Titus, who operates a home cleaning business and has lived in Saugerties for 36 of his 48 years, grabbed some friends and —with only three weeks before the event — decided to resurrect the event for what would be its fifth year.
“I’ve watched as over the years, Saugerties has turned into this amazing place,” Titus said. “And the Zombie Crawl has been a part of that.”
Last month, Titus came before the village trustees and asked for their blessing. He and Mayor Bill Murphy came away from that discussion with differing interpretations of the village’s enthusiasm. Titus thought trustees were all in, Murphy was concerned the event would be bigger than organizers could handle with so little time to plan (and, at the time, no financing for costs borne by previous organizers).
After a subsequent meeting, organizers agreed that closing the streets, paying for extra police presence, paramedics on standby and liability insurance were the right thing to do for an event of this kind. Titus is looking to raise $5,250. Of that, $3,200 is for police overtime, $1,350 is for paramedics from Diaz Ambulance and $700 is for a $2 million liability insurance policy. He’s sought contributions from businesses, but the lion’s share would come from tickets. Charging an admission fee isn’t unprecedented — last year’s event cost $2 to enter. Also in keeping with previous events, this year’s Zombie Crawl has chosen a charity (teen suicide) to benefit from any proceeds.
At the Village Board’s Oct. 6 meeting, Murphy told Titus that although he’d like to see the event postponed until next year to allow for more planning, he would support it if it went forward.
And what do the business owners think? Depends whom you ask.
Murphy said he spoke with one of the owners of the Dutch Ale House who was against the event. After an hour-long conversation, Murphy thinks he assuaged some of the owner’s concerns.
Ed Novak, the owner of the Pig Bar, is ambivalent. “I have no interest in the event,” he said. “If it happens, it happens.” He said his business would make money that night either way, though he admitted business was better than normal during previous events.
Rhianna Rodriguez, who owns the Main Street Restaurant with her husband, Jorge, had no such reservations. “We’ve always supported this event,” she said.
During the crawl, the restaurant has food and drink specials with zombie themes and employees dress up like zombies to get in the spirit.
“This is a neat event and benefits the community,” Rodriguez said. “We’re always eager to participate. It’s nice they want to do something for the community. We like Halloween and this gets us all in the mood.”
Matt Gleason, who owns Brine Barrel Pickles, said he would contribute to the event if asked, but he believes “the Zombie Crawl has gotten too big for the village.” He suggested that it would be better if it were held at someplace with more space, like Cantine Field.
Titus said he’s not deterred by comments made by some of the shop owners. “It makes me want to do it even more,” he said.
Police Chief Joseph Sinagra said he’s glad the event will be done in “an organized way.” He said in addition to Saugerties police, there would be state troopers and sheriff deputies on scene as well.“There will be an adequate number of staff there to keep it safe,” he said.
Updates and additional info (including presale tickets) can be found on the event’s Facebook page. Type Saugerties Zombie Crawl 2014 in the search box.