Welland is often the butt-end of many jokes in the Niagara region. I’ve heard the snickers and jeers of locals, even people within this city, about our “dead” downtown with little to do, and the few strange people lurking about, appearing as zombies on either drugs, despair, or those with their faces buried in phones with little to see or do. Like it or not, the downtown neighbourhood of this growing Rose City does come alive once in a while. There are concerts on a floating stage, festivals, parades, events big and small and many other hidden treasures in Welland’s downtown that many locals may know.
As summer winds down, and school has returned, the blissful long days of floating on or lounging by the recreational waterway, eating from food trucks during floating concerts on the water, watching fireworks, and enjoying various outdoor water sports and activities that our local environment provides, seem to be ending for the season. For the first time in many years, Welland does not offer a Regional Exhibition/Fair with amusement rides, demolition derbies, and agricultural displays on our city’s north end, nor a food extravaganza in the downtown core, as had become traditional events to attend here during September, further extending the festival feeling that the summer days provided us. The hopes that these events return next or in future years remains, but what is there to do in Welland now?
As the chill in the air returns nightly, it is only a matter of time before the leaves change colour and the air grows crisper and autumn approaches. So too comes the memories of autumns past, and the youthful lure of Halloween in October. But it is not the only thing to look forward to.
For the ninth year in a row, the Welland Zombie Walk returns. Held on a Sunday evening, on October 20th this year, this annual event attracts hundreds to the streets of downtown Welland. What began as a grass roots event has slowly evolved over the years to an annual walk-a-thon that invites entire families out to dress up as a zombie, and walk (or shuffle) the streets of downtown Welland, offering prizes from local business sponsors for best costumes, and collecting donations of non-perishable food or pet food items for The Hope Centre and Pets Alive Niagara respectively. Organized by a few volunteers, and with the support and assistance of many local businesses, associations, individuals, and also the City of Welland, it has come together to become our city’s big Halloween party, with many surprises in store. It is now Niagara’s only zombie walk, and is attracting the attention of other would-be zombies outside of the region and beyond.
I can understand not everyone is into zombies. I can understand that not everyone looks upon Welland favourably. But for one night, this normal and unsuspecting neighbourhood comes alive, as it often does, but fills the streets with kids of all ages (especially grown-up kids), reliving and creating those Halloween memories of dressing up in costume, walking the streets at night, and being rewarded for it. Sometimes, being a fake monster can be a welcome distraction from the real scary things in the world that our community faces, especially when it is for supporting good local causes and can help.
Meet you at the old Central Fire Hall in downtown Welland at 6pm on Sunday, October 20th. Just look for the clock tower and you’ll find the zombie horde. Don’t forget your food donation, and have fun.