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Gazette Premium Content Manitou Springs comes alive with the undead

81 photos photo - Team Cripple Creepers push their coffin in a parade before the Annual Emma Crawford Coffin Race in downtown Manitou Springs, Colorado on Saturday, October 26, 2013. (Kent Nishimura/The Gazette) + caption
Team Cripple Creepers push their coffin in a parade before the Annual Emma Crawford Coffin Race in downtown Manitou Springs, Colorado on Saturday, October 26, 2013. (Kent Nishimura/The Gazette)
By Garrison Wells Updated: October 27, 2013 at 4:44 pm

A thousand zombies. One Beetlejuice.

Downtown Manitou Springs was undead Saturday.

Even the Grim Reaper showed up, towering at 10 feet tall over the legions of undead.

A zombie bride. Zombie nuns. Zombie bees.

So many undead. So little time.

The Emma Crawford Coffin Races & Parade Saturday reached a record high.

More than 8,000 showed up for the annual Emma Crawford Festival that recognizes Crawford, who died in Manitou and was buried on top of Red Mountain in 1891.

See a photo gallery from Saturday here.

In 1929, after several years of rough weather, her remains washed down the side of the mountain.

She was reburied later in an unmarked grave in Crystal Valley Cemetery and a memorial was put up in 2004.

As the story goes, her remains were buried.

But her ghost may still hang around atop Red Mountain.

This year was the 18th annual festival and Manitou Avenue was jammed by parade and race entrants and lined in places 8 to 10 deep by spectators.

Even after the parade was underway, people kept showing up, trudging in clumps through leaves up Manitou Avenue from as far away as Highway 24.

"The last three years have been amazing," said Gary Anderson, a volunteer at the event.

Ashley Pitt, a volunteer who helped register entrants, said she could tell by the amount of people lined up for the parade that it was a large turnout.

A crowd favorite, the Grim Reaper was from Ghouls Gulch, said co-owner Patrick Lively.

Another favorite was the pirate coffin and its crew called "And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Undead," in its sixth year, said John Bunka.

His sister, Ashley was part of the crew, as was his wife, Meg.

If nothing else, at 10 words, John Bunka figured they had the longest name of the coffins.

"It's a family reunion," he said.

The parade was led by a dozen fairies from Miramont Castle, said Margaret Johnson, who runs the front desk.

Dawn Secrest, one of the fairies, spread bubbles and flowers.

Elvis showed up as "Hellvis" and his girlfriend, dressed in red with horns.

Rob Roberts and Karen, his wife, have been coming to the festival for about 15 years.

Last year they were Cheech and Chong, but Karen didn't want to play a male again this year.

The festival, she said, is a "chance to forget the rest of the world exists and just have fun."

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