Organizers of Louisville’s 14th annual Zombie Walk plan to welcome more attendees and more vendors at this weekend’s event. Also this year: more police.
The free event — which closes nearly a mile of Bardstown Road — encourages people to dress in zombie costumes and enjoy food, music and zombie-themed events.
And because 45,000 people are expected at this year’s event, Zombie Walk organizer Jason Besemann said the city forced them to accept security from the Louisville Metro Police Department.
Besemann declined to release the exact cost for hiring LMPD, but he estimates security will cost around $10,000 – nearly half of his budget for the whole event, he said.
“We’ve had to increase all of our barricades and things of that nature, so preparation, from a safety standpoint, we want to make this event as safe as possible,” Besemann said.
LMPD spokeswoman Jessie Halladay confirmed that security includes on-duty officers and SWAT team members.
Jean Porter, spokeswoman for Mayor Greg Fischer, said LMPD makes security recommendations for events based on event size, location, the potential for counter-protesters and other factors.
For previous Zombie Walks, Besemann said he contracted security through 1st Class Police Services, a Baltimore-based private company, which he said hired off-duty LMPD officers to secure the event. But this year, Porter said the size of the walk and the presence of masks and alcohol prompted LMPD to suggest on-duty officers and SWAT.
Increased security has also changed policies for the Zombie Walk, Besemann said. People can no longer bring real or fake guns, knives or machetes.
Porter said recent events, such as last year’s deadly shooting in Las Vegas, have increased security nationwide.
“Las Vegas, in a lot of ways, changed the ballgame for a lot of people,” Porter said. “So we’re redoubling efforts to make sure that we’re keeping people safe, allowing them to do what they want to do and have fun.”
The Louisville Zombie Walk starts at 8:29 p.m. Saturday, at the corner of Eastern Parkway and Bardstown Road.