STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald
Hundreds of Halloween revelers took to the street late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning for the fifth annual “zombie march” on Main Avenue.
The unauthorized procession lasted one hour and resulted in three arrests, said Chief Jim Spratlen, with the Durango Police Department.
He estimated 800 to 900 participants.
By all accounts, it was a smaller and tamer event than last year, when the event attracted about 1,500 people and resulted in 22 arrests.
“I don’t want a crowd taking over the street,” Spratlen said, “but this outcome is very pleasing to me compared to last year.”
The event got started at 11:53 p.m. near College Drive and Main Avenue with people yelling back and forth across the street. Several people ran from one side to the other until dozens of people were in the road marching north toward 12th Street.
It was a festive atmosphere in which participants laughed, shouted and talked among themselves. Some tried to initiate chants, such as “USA.” and “Whose streets? Our Streets!” but few took hold.
Noise from the marchers could be heard five blocks away.
Dozens of police officers equipped with crowd-control equipment gathered in clumps near street corners. None tried to stop the march from happening.
Several marchers said it was their first year.
“Everyone I know is here, so I just came on down,” said Kendal Young, a freshman at Fort Lewis College.
Others said they attended last year’s event, but this year’s march seemed more orderly.
“It’s way less chaotic than last year,” said Cary Hicks, 20, of Durango. “Last year got out of control, and this year it’s just calm. No one is trying to destroy property.”
Hicks said the zombie march is a way for people to express themselves and celebrate being alive.
“It’s awesome,” she said. “It’s just a gathering of all these people. It just combines us and makes us one.”
Greg Parham said this year’s zombie march felt “peaceful” compared with last year’s. He liked that it is planned, but spontaneous and unauthorized at the same time.
“It’s organized, but it’s unorganized,” Parham said.
Tony Schlauch, 38, of Durango, said the march is an expression of freedom.
“We own this street,” he said. “It is a public place. There’s not a ... thing they can do about it.”
Police allowed demonstrators to walk up and down Main Avenue at least three times, or for 40 minutes, before asking them to use the sidewalk. In one instance, officers asked participants to clear the road for a truck on Main Avenue.
The crowd slowly thinned out, and by 1 a.m., everyone had returned to the bars or sidewalks.
Not everyone was happy with the law-abiding crowd.
A man dressed as Moses taunted people standing on the sidewalk.
“You guys are all giving in,” he yelled. “This is America. You’re standing on the sidewalk?”
Chris Cooke also tried to lure people back onto the street, but he quickly gave up.
“No one wants to participate. It’s pathetic,” he said. “There’s total respect for the law, and that’s not OK.”
But the more he spoke, the more his tone changed.
It was a plus that people weren’t destroying private property or throwing trash cans in the road or throwing objects at police, which occurred last year, he said. And it was positive that police weren’t using batons and tear gas on participants as they did last year, he said.
But he wanted more.
“There needs to be a song, and that song needs to be, ‘Whose streets? Our streets,’” he said, his breath smelling strongly of alcohol.
And if not that song, then another song “that hasn’t been written yet” that conveys the same message, he said.
Chadrick Glasco, 19, of Durango, taunted police and yelled profanities while wearing a “Scream” mask and a fake police badge. He was arrested on suspicion of possession of cocaine, Spratlen said.
Two people were arrested for fighting with each other near Seventh Street and Main Avenue. They were cited for appearances in municipal court, Spratlen said.
No one was arrested for failure to disperse, inciting a riot or assault on a police officer, as was the case last year, he said.