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Zombies, creatures invade downtown Lexington for annual 'Thriller' parade

Thousands turned out to witness the undead and other scary creatures of the night descend on downtown Lexington, Kentucky on Sunday for the annual Thriller parade.
Thousands turned out to witness the undead and other scary creatures of the night descend on downtown Lexington, Kentucky on Sunday for the annual Thriller parade.

On a dark but not stormy Sunday night, 1,000 zombies danced in the streets of downtown Lexington.

An estimated 20,000 observers gasped and groaned as they watched the Thriller Parade, the fright night spectacular that USA Today calls a Top 10 Halloween destination in the United States.

It was the 13th annual re-creation of Michael Jackson's Thriller music video. The 13-minute video, voted the most influential pop music video of all time, premiered on MTV on Dec. 2, 1983, and has become a cult favorite.

After a Halloween parade that featured 15 entries ranging from Ghostbusters to a Day of the Dead altar float and a host of ghosts, ghouls, superheroes, villains and other costumed characters, seven Michael Jackson imitators led the army of "zombies" down the Main Street.

The "zombies" included Judy Bongard of Lexington with her 12-year-old nephew, Nick Stecht of Erlanger, and a niece, Olivia Neltner of Newport.

Bongard said she was enjoying her fourth Thriller. It was a first-time experience for her relatives.

Judy Bongard said her daughter did their makeup.

"It's fun," Bongard said. "Michael Jackson was my age. "I loved his ABC's song with The Jackson 5."

Before the parade began, "doctor zombie" Eryn Dailey and "cowgirl zombie" Calista Case, 10, both of Lexington lay in pseudo slumber in front of the Metro Government Center.

Although the evening's zombies were told to grunt, not talk, Dailey said that in real life she is Calista's nanny. "This is a chance for us to laugh together and have good girl talk," she said.

Among those in the large crowd were Doug and Kirsten Winkler of Winchester.

They were celebrating their third wedding anniversary in a Beetlejuice sort of way.

"We love Halloween, so we thought we had to go to our first Thriller," he said.

The event was a ghastly production of Lexington Parks and Recreation, Mecca Live Studio and WRFL, the University of Kentucky's student-run FM radio station.

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