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In Armada, the dead come alive

Detroit Circus performer Eric Scott Baker plays with fire for an enthusiastic crowd. He has honed his act, which also includes juggling and face balancing, over seven years as a professional performer. PHOTO/COLLEEN KOWALEWSKI

Detroit Circus performer Eric Scott Baker plays with fire for an enthusiastic crowd. He has honed his act, which also includes juggling and face balancing, over seven years as a professional performer. PHOTO/COLLEEN KOWALEWSKI

BY COLLEEN KOWALEWSKI
OU News Bureau

One day each year on the streets of Armada, the living dead take over the town for a celebration of all things creepy.

This is Armada-geddon.

Armada-geddon ringmaster Carolyn Sweeney describes Halloween as a low-stress holiday perfect for a festival celebration. PHOTO/COLLEEN KOWALEWSKI

Armada-geddon ringmaster Carolyn Sweeney describes Halloween as a low-stress holiday perfect for a festival celebration. PHOTO/COLLEEN KOWALEWSKI

In its seventh year, Armada-geddon has grown into an October tradition with a street fair, performers and a parade that brings residents and visitors out to enjoy the Halloween season. The Armada Area Chamber of Commerce organizes the event, which replaced Applefest as the town’s fall festival. Chamber President Carolyn Sweeney suggested the idea of zombies, and the event was born.

“We were looking for a fun Halloween festival to do, and zombies were hot,” Sweeney said. “It’s not just zombies, though. We try to embrace the whole Halloween month.”

Each year the event kicks off with a 5K in which participants run, walk or shamble to the finish line, many of them looking like escapees from the set of “The Walking Dead.” But that is only the beginning of a full day of ghoulish fun.

Sweeney’s bookstore, Squirreled Away Books, hosted a zombification booth where visitors could experience their own zombie transformations at the hands of a skilled makeup artist and get into costume for the day’s events. Down the road, Generations Florist and Exotic Pets offered a photo booth for those who wanted a souvenir of their zombie look.

At a nearby park, children shrieked and ran for their lives from zombie pursuers. Players who lost the flag that indicated their humanity joined the horde, chasing down the living until only one winner remained. Even the weather seemed to get into the spirit, a light rain and mist lingering until well after the zombies’ ultimate triumph.

A contest for best costume encourages Armada-geddon attendees to get into the Halloween spirit. Lisa Bohm of New Baltimore and Brian Foxlee of Armada dress for the event every year. PHOTO/COLLEEN KOWALEWSKI

A contest for best costume encourages Armada-geddon attendees to get into the Halloween spirit. Lisa Bohm of New Baltimore and Brian Foxlee of Armada dress for the event every year. PHOTO/COLLEEN KOWALEWSKI

On Main Street, the wet weather didn’t put a damper on the all-day street fair. Strolling performers from the Detroit Circus entertained the gathered crowds and a DJ spun classic Halloween tunes along with popular hits.

“This is our Christmas,” said Nikki Foxlee of Armada. Foxlee and her husband, Brian, both dressed for the occasion, donning costumes and strolling Main Street despite the drizzle.

Vendor booths lined the street, populated by an eclectic mix of businesses that included the usual home sales companies as well as crafters selling jewelry, home decor and creepy dolls. But between the shopping and entertainment, one booth had a serious message.

Under a blue Beaumont Hospital awning, emergency preparedness coordinator Doris Neumeyer demonstrated hands-only CPR on zombified practice dummies. She also presented sessions on disaster preparedness, during which she noted that even the CDC and Department of Homeland Security have embraced the zombie apocalypse in their training materials.

“Preparedness is all hazards. If you’re prepared for one thing, you’re prepared for everything.” Neumeyer said.

At Armada-geddon, organizers believe in preparing for everything. Even ghosts.

Creepy dolls and witches’ hats are on display side-by-side with Tupperware and scented candles in the street fair along Main Street. PHOTO/COLLEEN KOWALEWSKI

Creepy dolls and witches’ hats are on display side-by-side with Tupperware and scented candles in the street fair. PHOTO/COLLEEN KOWALEWSKI

The Metro Detroit Ghostbusters, a Rochester Hills based cosplay group, were on hand with proton packs at the ready to protect the village from the restless dead. Their nemesis, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, also put in an appearance.

As the sun went down, the full spectacle of Armada-geddon was on display in two of the event’s most popular attractions. At dusk, a group of young dancers took to Main Street to perform the iconic zombie moves from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video in a flash-mob style performance organized with the help of the Main Stage Center for the Arts.

A lighted parade brought classic cars, creepy clowns and convincing costumes to the streets in a grand finale celebration of all things Halloween. Armada area residents and businesses showed off their creativity on floats pulled by cars, trucks and tractors, as well as with decorated bikes and even a vintage hearse.

As the last float rolled away, the gathered zombies shuffled off into the darkness to leave the living at peace — until next year when organizers call them forth once again to celebrate Armada-geddon 2017.

Short URL: http://www.ounewsbureau.com/?p=10219

Posted by on Oct 9 2016. Filed under Featured article, Macomb C.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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