Tom Petty probably didn’t mean it literally when he wrote the lyrics, “All the vampires, walking through the Valley / Move west down Ventura Boulevard.” (If we had to guess, he was probably referring either to consumerism or record-company executives.) Still, Petty’s “Free Fallin’” had special significance to Mary Soracco back when she was a black-clad, corpse-painted teenager in the late ‘80s in the San Fernando Valley. And so, shortly after Petty’s death earlier this month, Soracco—who’s still Goth to this day—called upon her fellow creatures of the night to parade down Ventura Boulevard in his honor.
Buoyed by a Facebook event with hundreds of RSVPs, that parade, the Tom Petty Memorial Vampire Walk, headed west last night. The only requirements to join were that participants wore black—“You also don’t HAVE to be a goth! This event is really bringing people together!” the Facebook event cheerfully declares—and be willing to join a Petty sing-along. The vampire marchers, which included people in everything from vampire costumes to Tom Petty T-shirts, met at the most Southern California place imaginable: The steps of a shopping mall. From there, they crossed the street in a large crowd, politely stopping to wait for stragglers left behind when the traffic lights would change.
A couple of turns later, and they hit Ventura, where they headed west to the sound of supportive car horns before reconvening on the Sherman Oaks Galleria steps for a sing-along led by a Tom Petty impersonator. “Tom Petty’s songs are the only songs out there I feel truly capture what L.A. is all about,” Erik Koral, who also performs under the drag name Erika Simone, tells LA Weekly. “They all have a special feel. I can’t be on Mulholland Drive or cruising through Reseda ... without humming Tom Petty.” Today would have been Petty’s 67th birthday.