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Zombies stalk Astoria to raise money for Sandy victims

By Joe Anuta

The undead took to the streets of Astoria Saturday, lurching up Steinway Street to participate in a ghoulish pastime while raising money for victims of Superstorm Sandy, although some of the zombies seemed to be more after beer instead of brains.

Hundreds of people of all ages participated in the second annual Queens Thanksgiving Zombie Walk, where enthusiasts of the cult horror genre got to act out a scene that has replayed itself in hundreds of comic books, movies and music videos — the moment legions of reanimated corpses stalk through city streets, feasting on the flesh of the living.

“I’d like to see how people would react during a zombie apocalypse,” said Chante Tenoso, an Astoria resident and self-described zombie enthusiast who co-organized the event.

Tenoso hoped that some original artwork by one of the most noted purveyors of zombie literature would help raise money for victims of the hurricane.

Charlie Adlard draws a comic book called “The Walking Dead,” which has since been adapted into a prime time television series. He donated some original artwork that Tenoso and Thomas Art, who also organized the event, auctioned off to rase the cash.

Tenoso was dressed in a white bunny costume drenched in blood, and Saturday afternoon was sitting at a picnic bench filled with makeup in the spacious beer garden at Studio Square, at 35-33 36th St. in Long Island City, turning fresh-faced humans into the living dead.

The bar served as the staging point where participants carefully sipped beer, trying not to upset a gaping facial wound or accidentally dunk an eyeball hanging by its optical nerve.

Rachel Gonzalez had so much fun at last year’s zombie walk that she couldn’t wait to come again, especially after she found out it would fall on her 9th birthday.

“It was fun,” Rachel said of last year’s event. “You can scare people.”

This year the birthday girl was wearing a pink dress and a sparkling tiara, which stood in stark contrast to her seemingly decomposed, green face.

On the deck above where the zombies milled about, there were some normal bar-goers watching the scene.

“I think it’s kind of weird,” said Charlie Smith, who was drinking a beer with some friends and watching a football game. “I was surprised that there are that many people interested in such a strange passion.”

But the ranks of the undead have been growing for years, with zombie walks increasing in popularity across the country. And the Queens Thanksgiving Zombie Walk, only in its second year, is gaining more credibility.

A nonprofit dedicated to teaching people the dance from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video in which a clan of zombies performs synchronized moves led by the King of Pop, was on hand to instruct the participants gathered at Studio Square.

The organization, called Thrill the World NYC, attempts to raise money for music education by setting world records by having as many people perform the dance as possible.

An artist who specializes in ghoulish airbrush drawings, Robb Ortel, was the celebrity guest judge who picked the best zombie costume. Ortel can be seen on the reality television show “Orange County Choppers,” a program following a colorful upstate family and their custom bike shop.

And the donation of Adlard’s original artwork meant the zombie walk was recognized by one of the biggest names in the business.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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