ASBURY PARK, N.J. -- Eugene Kessler, 34, of Lacey walked along the blood-spattered boardwalk Saturday afternoon in a T-shirt and jeans - a mere human among thousands of zombies with white faces, sunken eyes and missing limbs.
"As long as they don't eat me, I'm safe," Kessler said with a laugh, looking down at his belly. "I have a lot of meat on me."
Kessler was one of thousands on hand for the sixth annual New Jersey Zombie Walk.
This year's event, which was paired with the Stronger than the Storm campaign, also aimed to break the world record of the largest zombie gathering - a title it held with 4,093 zombies before it was broken last year by a Minneapolis pub crawl with 8,027 walkers.
Wearing tattered and stained clothing, the undead dragged their feet in true zombie form through the turnstiles set up for the Guinness World Records counting as they filtered onto the beach.
Michael Empric, adjudicator for the Guinness World Records, watched from atop Convention Hall.
"Most of the people here have gone above and beyond; the costumes are amazing," he said. "I think the people that came are more dedicated than the normal participants."
Shortly after 5 p.m., Jason Meehan, the creator of the zombie walk, picked up a microphone and addressed the undead. "New Jersey zombies - we did it again!" he yelled, as it was announced that the official zombie count was 9,592.
"How does it feel to be two-time world record-holders?" he continued. "We are strong! We are unbreakable! The Jersey Shore lives!"
"Now, who's ready for some brains?" he screamed.
At that, bloody brides, butchers with missing limbs and ghost pirates limped through the streets of Asbury Park muttering "brains!"
Ashley Guerrero, 29, of Asbury Park, dressed as an undead Olive Oyl from "Popeye," said she and her friends had prepared for the zombie walk by watching "Night of the Living Dead."
"We had to get our technique of intestine-eating down," she said as her 1 ½-year old son dressed as a zombie chicken slept in his stroller.
Ken Lehman of Long Branch sat on a bench with his wife and two young daughters. The family was one of many brave humans to rub elbows with the undead.
"I'm not scared," said Sofia Lehman, 9. "We know it's fake." Pointing to those in costume she said, "They go fast; real zombies go slow."
Halfway down the boardwalk, groups of people with cameras crowded around a family of Amish zombies.
The zombie walk "ties our whole family together," said Libby Miller of Little Egg Harbor, who was dressed in bloody Amish clothing alongside her husband and five children. Their plan of attack: "Go right for the brains."
Meehan said teaming this year's event with the Stronger than the Storm campaign was a great idea because many fans of the event were devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
"The zombie walk sends a message that the storm didn't knock us down - we are unbreakable," Meehan said. "Just like zombies, we are alive!"