Some of the ugliest people in Lodi walked the Downtown streets Friday night. Their faces were caked in dry blood, one sported hair the length of Tim Lincecum's, and a man dressed as a transvestite. And there was plenty of humor to go around, with participants playing their parts to the hilt.
"It's something really fun to do, something very different from what happens in Lodi normally," said Christie Michaeloff, of Lodi.
Lodi resident Kathy Kuzyk was not only draped in her ugliest attire, but she also carried a severed arm hanging from a pole attached to her body.
When asked why the hanging arm would wear a wrist watch, Kuzyk's husband, Greg, replied, "The arm came with the watch — the ring, too."
"Not much happens in Lodi, at least not this fun," Kathy Kuzyk said.
Presler reported on his Facebook page that he expected 140 zombies for the Friday night festivities, but the turnout definitely exceeded his expectations.
"It was probably about 250, but for the press, it's 800," Presler chuckled while talking to a News-Sentinel reporter.
The fun started shortly after 6 p.m., with Lodi dance instructor Patricia Moore leading the zombies in dancing to the Michael Jackson hit "Thriller" outside Umbrella Alley, just off Sacramento Street between Lockeford and Locust streets.
"Thriller" was booming — you could hear the music from several blocks away. And you could feel the bass penetrate your bones.
Once the song was over, Presler led his fellow zombies south on Sacramento Street, all the way to Lodi Avenue, then one block over and back north on School Street.
Part of the walk included a parade through Lodi Beer Co., entertaining indoor and outdoor customers as they growled their way through.
"It was funny seeing them limping into the restaurant," said Stockton resident Sarah Gutierrez, who was enjoying an outdoor dinner at Lodi Beer Co.
"We rented the table," said Lodi resident Lynn Cesena, who couldn't stop laughing at the passersby. "We didn't know we would get a front-row seat."
Other zombies portrayed beauty queens. Jillian Ming, of Lodi, was wearing her old high school prom dress and a Miss Lodi sash, though she admits to never having held the title.
Her cousin, Courteney Rice, actually won a pageant — Miss Escalon in 2004. She wore a nice dress with black roses. When she's not a zombie, Rice works for the San Joaquin County Office of Substance Abuse Prevention.
And then there was Andrew Silver, of Stockton, who was dressed in a frumpy dress his grandmother might wear. He wore a long wig and stuffed his tummy to appear pregnant.
Lodi Police Patrol Officer Shad Cannestrino, doing bicycle patrol Friday night, admired the zombies while watching them cross Pine Street in front of the Lodi Arch. Cannestrino took the festivities in fun, saying that he didn't mind hearing "Thriller" blasting the black Lodi skies.
There were no noise complaints, he said.
In a more serious moment, donations were taken to support Lodi Support Our Troops, an organization that sends care packages to troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.