On Oct. 25, Kirkland will crown its zombie king and queen.
At the end of the Zombie Wine Walk, a holiday event put on collaboratively by the Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce and the Kirkland Downtown Association, participants who have dressed up for the themed program will be recognized for their creativity.
“People like to dress up — they like to do fun things together as a group,” Samantha St. John, chamber executive director, said.
The chamber and the downtown association, according to St. John, put on about four wine walks every year. The thematic element, though, is a relatively new addition. After getting some feedback from community members who’d attended other walks, St. John said that a couple of years ago the event’s planners tried out the zombie theme. What at first was viewed as an experiment, soon proved popular.
“It was such a big hit and the costumes were so over the top it’s become one of our most popular [wine walks],” St. John said.
The purpose of this event and previous wine walks, in addition to bringing the 21 and older crowd in the community together, is to benefit small businesses downtown during the “shoulder season” and highlight Washington wines.
“It’s important for us to showcase the great vibrant business community we have,” Tessa Hansen, events manager for the downtown association, said.
This year, 15 wineries and two breweries are participating. Participants check in at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. — depending on whether they purchased an early-bird ticket or not — at the Heathman Hotel. Attendees will receive Merrill Gardens-sponsored glasses and bags sponsored by Metropolitan Market in case they want to buy a bottle of wine during the event. Ticket-holders are then are free to peruse galleries and shops in Kirkland, which will be pouring the drinks.
Participants will receive 14 tasting tickets but can purchase more. St. John said that, depending on how many businesses participate, between 400 and 500 people typically attend the wine walk event. Recently, the chamber and downtown association have had to create a waiting list for businesses wanting to participate in the event due to its popularity.
“I think everybody just has so much fun,” said Hansen, who’s helped organize for the last two years. “I meet people from out of town who haven’t shopped at the stores before…it’s just a cool experience and a good way to check out all the shops downtown.”
The night is capped by the zombie costume contest, for which attendees have to congregate back at the hotel around 9 p.m.
Hansen noted that the event hearkens back to a time when shopping was more of a communal activity.
“In a time where people are doing a lot of online shopping, it’s a good thing to get people into stores and really reconnect with that in-person shopping experience,” she said. “Every person comes away with bags. That’s one of our missions — to remind people of what it’s like when we used to just shop in stores.”