Perennial zombies enrich Lexington's downtown 'Thriller'

ctruman@herald-leader.comOctober 26, 2013 

Before The Walking Dead and Shaun of the Dead, there was Michael Jackson's zombie classic Thriller, one of the best music videos of all time with unforgettable musical and dance hooks.

Jackson did his glide 30 years ago, but Lexington has made Thriller a community event downtown for more than a decade. The Halloween extravaganza lived again on Saturday night.

Liz Wilhelm, the first zombie to arrive for the pre-show at CentrePointe and sporting a pin that said "Me Heart Brain," is in her sixth year of zombie dancing.

"It's the most fun I have ever had in my life, to be gross and ugly and scare people," she said. "It's an alter ego."

Not everyone was simply a zombie's zombie. Take Teresa Rakes, who has carved out her niche as a Spock zombie from Star Trek.

In her fourth year in Thriller, she said, her motto is a variation of the Vulcan's watchword on the TV series: "Be undead and prosper."

"I'm a staple now," she said, lurching toward a spectator.

Neal Scott and Tiffany Jones came together as zombies — his seventh outing, her first. He was wearing a fuzzy green dinosaur costume that was a reference to the Fox situation comedy The Tick, which aired in 2001. Her costume was inspired by the character Harley Quinn from Batman and featured a gaping chest wound fashioned from liquid latex, toilet paper and fake blood.

Britta and David Eden said that donning their zombie costumes and makeup takes about an hour. She was dragging a pink stuffed toy, and part of his face appeared to be falling off.

"We wait for this all year," David Eden said. "We come early so we can scare everybody."

But it would not truly be Lexington's Thriller until Elvis had entered the CenterPointe pasture.

Zombie Elvis, also known as Steve Belt, has dressed up as the King of the Rock and Roll Undead five times now.

His friend Denise Crosby said that Belt spotted the lack of the Elvis presence early on in the Thriller series.

Now, Belt said as he made his way across the meadow to greet spectators, "I have a core following."

Led by Mecca Dance Studio of Lexington, volunteer zombies — estimated this year at 1,500 — learn to dance in that special menacing and jerky zombie manner and apply makeup to look like the undead.

This year's Thriller began with a pre-party at 6 p.m. and a Thriller showcase at the CentrePointe block between 6:30 and 7:30. It finished with the Halloween parade at 8 p.m. and the piece d'horreur, the Thriller parade, at 8:30 p.m.

Cheryl Truman: (859)231-3202. Twitter: @CherylTruman.

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