KEY WEST, Fla. — Known as a haven for sun-seekers, Key West might seem an unusual place for creatures of the dark to congregate — except, that is, during the annual Zombie Bike Ride. Thousands of “the bicycling dead” are to prowl the island’s Atlantic Ocean shoreline and streets Sunday, Oct. 20, during the eerie yet oddly lighthearted event.
Since its inception in 2010, the pre-Halloween ride has become a tradition that typically features visiting and local adults, kids and even a few pets. Many wear "traditional" gory zombie garb paired with scary face and body paint, while others are costumed as everything from evil clowns and skeletons to undead brides in ragged finery.
The spooky spectacle is to begin at 2 p.m. when “Zombieland” opens at Fort East Martello Museum, a reputedly haunted historic site overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at 3501 S. Roosevelt Blvd.
The afternoon’s attractions include music, live mural painting, food and beverage vendors, prizes, giveaways and on-site face and body painters to help transform attendees into fearsome zombies. A Kids Zone is to offer age-appropriate activities and fun.
Often portrayed staggering through dark cemeteries, Key West’s zany zombies are to trade pedestrian power for pedal power at 6:30 p.m. Applauded by scores of spectators, they’ll bike down South Roosevelt Boulevard beside the Atlantic Ocean, past Higgs Beach and into Key West’s hauntingly picturesque downtown.
The unearthly antics are to culminate in the ZombieFest Street Party in the 100, 200 and 300 blocks of Key West’s famed Duval Street, with some of the fun spilling onto Greene Street.
The Zombie Bike Ride takes place on the first weekend of Key West's annual Fantasy Fest costuming and masking festival, a 10-day extravaganza scheduled Friday, Oct. 18, through Sunday, Oct. 27.
Registration to ride is $5 per person and includes admission to “Zombieland.” Artists set their own prices for face and body painting.
A portion of the proceeds is to benefit the Key West Art & Historical Society.
Zombie Bike Ride information and registration: zombiebikeride.com
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY