KU homecoming parade downtown will herald a zombie invasion

All right, college sports odds-makers, here’s one for you: the Kansas University football team versus a slow-moving horde of the undead.

Bets? Anyone?

Just kidding. Gambling on college sports is illegal, of course, and zombies much prefer brains to pigskins. But this fall will see the Jayhawks and zombies on the same surf for the first time in NCAA history.

This fall’s KU homecoming parade is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 3 on Massachusetts Street, just one hour before the Lawrence Zombie Walk, a yearly stroll down the sidewalks of Mass. Street by people dressed as the living dead and out to raise money for the Lawrence Humane Society.

Depending on how you figure it, the zombies were here first. The homecoming parade left downtown decades ago, while the Zombie Walk is in its seventh year downtown.

You also have to give the zombies this: They’re well-organized.

Harold Agnew, who has organized the walk for the past three years, signed up to reserve the South Park gazebo the day after last year’s walk, which he said included about 1,100 zombies plus as many as 2000 spectators.

The homecoming organizers, meanwhile, had the foresight to apply for a right-of-way permit on Mass. Street (which the zombies don’t need since they stick to the sidewalk), but not to reserve South Park or check to see if there were any other events scheduled that evening.

But all those delicious brains must make zombies extra reasonable.

“My main goal is that all my people have a good time, that we raise money for charities, and that the KU homecoming is able to have their rally without interference,” Agnew said.

Agnew said he sat down with homecoming planners to help ensure that the two events don’t run into each other, since the homecoming parade starts as the zombies meet in South Park to prepare for the walk.

From there, the homecoming parade will head down Mass. and then onto Eighth Street for a pep rally. At 7 p.m. the zombies start making their way down the sidewalks of Mass.

Part of the fun of the Zombie Walk is the crowd it draws, Agnew said.

“It’s quite a spectator event,” he said, adding that the walk was “family-oriented.”

The zombies don’t want any trouble with the homecoming crowd or anyone else. To that end, Agnew has a list of guidelines to keep his zombies from getting unruly. He also purchases event insurance to protect himself and the zombies from liability damages during the walk.

(Why don’t all zombie invasions insure themselves, come to think of it? It could help pay for rebuilding costs post-apocalypse.)

Perhaps the homecoming parade will even bring in new spectators. But Agnew’s not counting on it.

“I don’t know if the demographics are going to overlap or not,” he said.