Zombies, Gorillas and Beer…Oh My!
Denverites love any excuse to put on a costume, so October is a busy month, filled with a series of wacky events that keep the Guinness World Record people busy. In just 30 days, Denver will host the world’s largest Zombie Crawl, the world’s largest Gorilla Run and the world’s largest beer festival.
Blame it on the Beer!
You can blame the early October craziness on the beer. Denver Beer Fest kicks off activities from Oct. 4-12 with more than 150 beer-centric events, from tap takeovers and firkin tappings to beer-paired dinners and meet the brewer nights.
It’s all an appetizer to the Great American Beer Festival® (GABF), which rolls into town Oct. 10-12. This is the largest gathering of suds lovers in the world with more than 49,000 beer geeks attending for the privilege of tasting some 3,000 different beers produced by 600 different brewers. More beers will be available for tasting in 2013 than at any other single spot in history. Tickets sold out in less than 15 minutes.
If you don’t have tickets, don’t worry – there are still 150 beer-related events taking place throughout metro Denver during the over-lapping Denver Beer Fest, not to mention some 26 downtown Denver breweries and tap houses.
Many GABF-goers come in costumes, ranging from fetching frauleins in dirndl skirts to people dressed as hops, wizards, or even big mugs of beer. Scottish pipe bands add to the madness, squealing up and down the aisles as 15,000 people try to taste as many exotic beers as they can squeeze in during one of the four, four-hour tasting periods. On the streets outside, pedi-cabs and beer wagons do a brisk business, escorting festival goers from pub to pub and safely home as well.
There’s a serious side to GABF as well, and the medals awarded at this “Super Bowl of Beer” in more than 85 categories are considered the most prestigious beer medals in the business.
Streets Dripping With Blood
The largest zombie gathering in history will take place in downtown Denver on Saturday, October 19 when some 16,000-plus blood splattered crazies drag themselves down the 16th Street Mall in a day-long event that can be as funny as it is horrifying.
The Annual Denver Zombie Crawl has already been documented as the largest zombie event in the nation, and for this – the 7th annual crawl – the organizers are again shooting for a new Guinness World Record. Why is Denver home to so many zombies? Why not? Colorado already has the Frozen Dead Guy Festival, so why not a festival of 16,000 undead strolling the streets.
The day begins at 11 a.m. with the Organ Trail. This zombified version of a 5K event is a run, walk or crawl around downtown Denver that mixes the gross parts of Fear Factor with the clue solving of the Amazing Race, and puts them all together in a Haunted House. Zombie teams solve clues to find locations and move to checkpoints, and it’s all very complicated, but the main attraction is seeing the creativity of the other zombies.
And they are creative. And horrifying. There are bodies missing heads, bodies carrying their heads, and bodies with holes in their heads. Many of the zombies are sexy. There are zombie cheerleaders, zombie nurses, zombie brides, zombie Playboy bunnies, and even a complete zombie marching brass band. There is so much dripping blood that by day’s end, the 16th Street Mall is actually stained with pools of blood – all fake, of course – and you can mark the path of some zombies by their smeared trails.
Entire families of undead join the parade, all of them – from young tots to bewildered-looking parents -- covered with horrific wounds, exposed entrails, axes in their heads, and always – the vacant stare of the undead. The scariest thing of all are the hundreds of zombies who wear “dead-eye” contacts, giving them that strange, glowing, far-away look.
Zombie ground zero is Skyline Park, but really, the entire mile-long 16th Street Mall (and its 42 outdoor cafes) are crawling with zombies all afternoon. If you come as a spectator, the most fun is to pick a spot in a café that lines the Mall and enjoy the parade of horror as it saunters by.
If you’re a zombie amateur and want to join in the parade, come at 12 noon, where Zombie Crawl officials will help you with makeup.
There’s a re-creation of Michael Jackson’s zombie “Thriller” dance at 3:55 p.m., and the “official” parade down 16th Street Mall for the world record goes from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m., ending with costume contests at Skyline Park and a Zombie Crawl after-party at Casselman’s at 8 p.m.
Whether you come dead – or alive – you’ll laugh, you’ll be grossed out, you’ll be horrified and quite frequently scared, sometimes all within one minute, but you’ll come to appreciate the creativity that exists in Denver, at least in the underground world of the undead.
Run Gorilla, Run!
A week after the zombies leave town, downtown Denver is inundated with gorillas – thousands of them! The 10th Annual Denver Gorilla Run is Saturday Oct. 26 with more than 3,000 people in gorilla suits running a 5K to benefit the mountain gorillas of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The cost of the race is $99, which includes a full gorilla suit (available in different sizes). Participants from each of the nine previous races are being encouraged to dig out their suits and show up to help re-set Denver’s current Guinness World Record for a gorilla run with even higher numbers.
As if gorilla suits were not enough, racers are encouraged to dress up the suits, so there are gorilla families, gorilla bands, gorilla blonds…old gorillas, young gorillas and even Hawaiian gorillas.
After the race there is a gigantic block party for everyone in the city with food trucks, craft beer, and bands, all in front of the Wynkoop Brewing Company, Denver’s oldest and largest brew pub. The Wynkoop was founded by current Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, the first former brewer to be elected state governor since Sam Adams in 1793. All of which proves the people of Denver appreciate a good beer, as well as a gorilla and zombie or two.
After participating in these world-record events in The Mile High City, you’re going to be exhausted! Go to visitdenver.com/hotels/specials to find special rates and packages all year round.