Play with the walking dead
Fans of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” take note: Nick Gomez is in town.
The studly actor, who’s also been on HBO’s “Treme,” Showtime’s “Dexter” and in the feature film “Looper,” is leading this year’s Baton Rouge Halloween Parade. But before he rides on the grand marshal’s float on Saturday, Gomez will be posing for photos and signing autographs at 6:30 p.m. Friday at The 13th Gate haunted house, 832 St. Phillip St.
The 13th Gate is also where the parade will assemble on Saturday before it winds its spooky way through downtown. Leading the way will be King Corey Tullier and Queen Jessica Edwards.
“We’re going to cross Third Street twice,” Sacha Tessier, president of parade presenter 10/31 Consortium, said of this year’s route. “We have added a ‘no scare zone,’ to try to keep it family friendly, so we’re going to have an area on Seventh Street between Laurel and Convention where we’re not going to let the zombies from the 13th Gate or any of the walkers go out into the crowd, so the kids don’t get scared and that sort of thing.”
Tessier said there will also be a no-alcohol zone around the churches on the parade route.
“We end over on Laurel Street, kind of by the Red Star. So it’s a pretty good route,” she said.
The RIP (Really Important People) area at Repentance Park will offer food trucks and activities, she said.
There will be about 30 units in the parade, including dance groups, walking groups, seven or eight floats, and five marching bands, including one from Tulane University.
Costumes are encouraged for the kids and adults, too.
“It really adds to the atmosphere, and we love that about it,” Tessier said.
About 8,000 people turned out for last year’s parade, and just as in its first two years, the event will support three charitable causes.
“We do lead off our parade with the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank truck, and they also push shopping carts and take collections from the crowd,” Tessier said. “And so we really want to encourage people to come out with their non-perishable food items because we are entering the Thanksgiving season. This is the Food Bank’s busiest time of the year and we really just want people to come out, bring a bag full of food, dump it in the cart, and then you have an empty bag you can collect beads and candy and stuff from the parade with.”
Also, any parade profits, after expenses, are donated to Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. The group hopes to increase its donation to OLOL each year by $1,031.
Thirdly, a pre-parade drive collected 120 Halloween costumes which were donated to the Big Buddy Program.
“Those children wear the costumes and walk in our parade each year,” Tessier said.
“It’s your basic Halloween party in the street,” she said. “Who doesn’t love Halloween? I’ve always described it as your chance to be somebody else for a little while. I think south Louisiana just does parades so well, and I think it’s just another opportunity for us to do that.”