If you looked out your window Friday and saw zombies wreaking havoc on the streets, rest assured: You do not have a sixth sense, and you cannot actually see dead people.
Instead, what you saw was a group of about 25 people participating in the first-ever Kandiyohi County Zombie Walk, organized by Vincent Mische, a 2009 graduate of New London-Spicer High School.
For about an hour, zombie walkers thrashed, moaned and grunted their way from Robbins Island Park to First Street and Willmar Avenue, attracting the attention of anyone who happened to be driving or passing by. Not even the threat of a tornado could deter them from their mission: to strike fear in the hearts of Willmar residents.
And mostly just to have fun.
"I'm so excited to be here," said Flor Holguin, 13, who splattered red paint all over her body and tore up her clothes to be part of the zombie walk. "I get to be with my best friends and yell at cars. Thumbs up!"
When Mische, 19, started planning the zombie walk back in April, he thought it would just be himself and a few of his friends. But when he posted the event on Facebook, almost 700 people responded and said they might show up for the walk.
With the tornado warnings in effect last night, however, Mische said the weather probably kept a lot of people from participating in the walk.
Those who did show up, though, took their zombie costumes seriously. Some walkers used blush, lipstick and eyeliner to create the gruesome effect of blood and guts. Almost everyone tore up their clothes. One zombie even used latex and cornflakes to create scaly patches of skin.
Jordan Ryan, 16, said zombies have always been "a major interest" of his.
"I love the idea of the dead rising and invading humanity," Ryan said.
Mikaela Merlin, 14, celebrated her birthday by participating in the zombie walk.
"I'm really obsessed with the apocalypse," she said. "And (the walk) is something different to do in Willmar."
One zombie, Adric Waibel, 23, said he heard about the zombie walk in its initial planning stages back in April. At that point, he was finishing his service in Iraq as a cavalry driver. In his down time, he said, he looked forward to the walk and spent a lot of time planning the perfect zombie costume.
"There's a lot of boredom over there," Waibel said. "This was something to look forward to."
Though most zombie walks across the nation take place on or near Halloween, Mische said he chose to hold this one in the summer because nothing else like it would be taking place.
"If we did it on Halloween, it might get shattered by anything else going on," he said. "So I said, 'Why not do it some other time?'"
Mische's costume consisted of a pair of hospital scrubs and a white shirt that he cut up and buried underground. He also poured tea over his clothes, trying to give them more of "an aged look" typical of zombies, he said.
Zombies have become an increasingly popular subject over the last 10 years, appearing in movies such as the "Resident Evil" series, "Dawn of the Dead" and last year's "Zombieland." The undead are also popular in video games.
"People have a fascination with the life beyond," Mische said. "It's creepy but interesting."