By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette — Don't drag your feet this weekend if you're out on Old Falls Street. If you do, you might be mistaken for the walking dead.
Terror Technologies, a Kenmore-based haunted attractions company, is throwing a pair of real-life zombie walks around the neighborhood of the Conference Center Niagara Falls, where they'll be stationed Saturday as part of the third Niagara Tattoo Expo.
Greg Hinaman, the company's owner and founder, said the experience many people consider terrifying is actually addicting as heck.
"Once you do it and do it as often as we do, you want to keep doing it," Hinaman said. "For those who love Halloween and getting dressed up in costumes, there's a love for this sort of horror. But they also have a good heart, so we give them an opportunity to donate to charity and fill their need for their horror at the same time."
Charity work is a large part of Terror Technologies's current business and Saturday's pair of walks, scheduled for 2 and 5 p.m., are no exception. For those wishing to participate or to be made up as a zombie by some of the area's best artists, it only takes three cans of food or $1 cash.
Every bit of what's raised goes directly to the Food Bank of Western New York, which is just one of the area's organizations Hinaman and company have worked with. They've done fundraisers together with UNYTS and are in the process of finalizing a partnership with the Special Olympics for October.
It's an aspect he's enjoyed about his work, dating back to his time running a haunted house every Halloween in Kenmore.
"I've been in the haunted attractions business for 23 years," he said. "We decided to go out and promote ourselves ... about eight months before 'The Walking Dead' came out, so we jumped on the zombie walks just in time. People love the charity aspect of these events. When we tell them what we do and why, they're always saying, 'Really? This is awesome.'"
Saturday's experiences will be different both times, with the earlier walk set to circle the block where the conference center sits. But the later adventure could cause a bit of havoc — as any zombie naturally would. The 5 p.m. walk will take over Niagara Falls State Park, where the walking dead have been known to chase a tourist or two, then take pictures with them afterward.
Hinaman said the experience with the unsuspecting, unfamiliar tourists and locals is what makes a zombie walk memorable, at least for him.
"People will ask us for pictures galore," he said about the second walk. "The tourists are great. It's going to be enjoyable."
Zombies taking over Niagara Falls outdoors is one thing. But inside the conference center, there will be plenty going on this weekend as well. Beginning from 4 to 11 p.m. tonight, the Niagara Tattoo Expo will bring attention to the popular subculture of body art. And regular art, according to the event's creator Katherine Molinaro.
Though the main attraction will be the ink, with several vendors and artists from across the country expected to be on hand, several artists have also been commissioned to create graffiti art on special pieces of dry wall which will be on display throughout the weekend's event.
But the real art, of course, is the face makeup people will be wearing thanks to the zombie makeup. Molinaro is excited to have the company back for a second year.
"We had talked about doing a walk last year, but there wasn't enough time," she said. "They had a tent set up last year and they were making zombies. They're so good. If you didn't know and turned around and saw one of them, they'd scare you. They come in looking like zombies.
"So many people loved it last year. We had kids excited, there were adults interested. And it's for a great cause."
Aside from the walks, the tattoo expo runs from 4 to 11 p.m. tonight, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 for one day access or $40 the entire weekend.
And that three-can donation for the zombie experience also helps the tattoo expo, which is offering $5 off every admission. Molinaro is trying to surpass last year's food donation, which topped 500 pounds.
"We already have more than 50 pounds of food," she said.NIAGARA TATTOO EXPO • Running from 4 to 11 p.m. tonight, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday at the Conference Center Niagara Falls. • Tickets are $15 for one day access or $40 the entire weekend. Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.