Zombies invade the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds


The paintball bullets are a fluorescent green which glow eerily on the course once the sun goes down. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Zombies have been invading the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds all month. Finally, on Sunday, the Zombie Wrecking Crew loaded up on an armed battle bus and laid them to rest—Once and for all … or at least until next year.

The zombie wrecking bus is equipped with 27 paintball guns for a large group. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Zombie Wrecking Crew is the brainchild of Thomas Taylor, owner of Combat Zone Paintball Park in Oroville. He’s hosted the event—where people board a bus mounted with paintball guns to fight off the invading zombies—for 5 years running. This year was his first time hosting the event in Chico.

“We brought it Chico, we brought it you,” Taylor said, “Come out and shoot zombies with us.”

The main event is an armored bus ride where participants fight off zombie hordes that have overtaken Taylorsville (a small homage to the owner and his family) and set-up behind the fairground bleachers, which the bus circles. Participants—aka The Zombie Wrecking Crew—unload paintballs on the zombies until they fall back, and the grounds are safe. After returning, some choose to continue the fight in the Laser Combat Zone, where the battle continues in much more personal, closer quarters combat.

As the sun sets, guests line up to board the paintball gun mounted bus in preparation of the zombie battle to come.

Zombies don’t come out until dark. Everyone knows that, but out back the zombies prepare.

Ryan “Cowboy” Soulsby spoke while getting into costume.

“The hardest part of this job is always finding all the weaknesses in all our armor, cause, it never fails that the paintballs find it for us,” he said

Soulsby has participated in the past four Zombie Wrecking Crew events. He first shot zombies down four years ago from the bus and loved it. He immediately followed the Zombie Wrecking Crew’s Facebook Page after his experiences, and saw a send-out request for more zombies shortly thereafter. He signed up, and has served as a loyal denizen of the undead for the group each year since.

As the sun set the zombies came out in full force. Meanwhile, members who signed up to be a part of The Zombie Wrecking Crew began boarding the bus.

Luminescent paintballs were loaded into the mounted guns. Upon bursting, the paint inside would glow in the dark, which was especially bright under the black lights the bus emitted from both sides.

The group prepares to hunt zombies as each paintball gun is filled with ammo and instructions are given. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Joe Estes, staff member of Zombie Wrecking Crew, bellowed the rules of the bus over the sound of Family Force 5’s “Zombie” chorus, which looped over the bus speakers at max volume.

Listen now for the full experience.

“When the blue lights on the bus turn on, that’s when you can shoot anything and everything, have fun,” he addressed the group.

The bus alternated between blue and purple glows. Purple lights illuminated the bus as it maneuvered and got into position. The blue, all clear, lighting came on as the bus entered zombie infested areas, and presented a proper broadside to the zombies. The non-stop rat-a-tat-tat of the 20 plus guns constantly firing kept them at bay, eventually forcing them back.

The blue light from the outside of the bus is the only way you see the zombies to shot them. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson
The zombies surround the bus at the end of the hunt, requiring everyone to aim and fire. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Even still, some zombies managed to board the bus. They were quickly dispatched by The Zombie Wrecking Crew, who also carried mock barbed wire bats and other melee weapons as the mounted paintballs guns didn’t turn inside into the bus itself.

Victorious, the crew returned to base, however, many continued the battle.

A laser zombie arena had been created, and participants grabbed laser rifles and headed off on a mission to fix the now zombie ridden interior. Teams of five had to clear a maze like construction while zombies waited at every corner. The Zombie Wrecking Crew’s mission was to replace four beacons broken down by zombies, and return in one piece.

“It’s like real life Call of Duty zombies,” Taylor explained, as he handed out laser rifles to the next team. The rifles kept a tally of hits and kill shots on zombies which could be seen once the team finished the course.

These zombies were particularly powerful, as the lasers could only send them away for a short time while the Wrecking Crew acted in the meantime to reset the beacons that had been destroyed.

Finally, once the beacons were reset, the zombies were forced back.

The Zombie Wrecking Crew hopes to return next year to keep the zombie hordes at bay once more.

Josh Cozine can be reached at [email protected] or @joshcozine on Twitter