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FORT MYERS, Fla. (News-Press) -- Zombicon might not return to downtown Fort Myers thisyear.

If it's going to stay - it's going to need some help,both from city leaders and the community.

"We are confident we are going to have a Zombicon,"organizer Janet DeMarco said. "But for us to have it in the city of Fort Myers,we need to have some positive commitment."

The annual zombie gathering, which brought about 30,000people to downtown Fort Myers in October, is typically the highest-grossingnight of the year for area bars and restaurants. But three months after theevent, Zombicon owes the city $15,256, and future events might be injeopardy.

"We are going to give it to the collection agencies,and they are going to go after it," Saeed Kazemi, city public works directorsaid. "But the bottom line is, if they don't pay, they are not going to get apermit next year."

Zombicon paid the city a $624 deposit to cover theexpense of closing downtown streets but hasn't paid anything since the Octoberevent, said Dawn Fellows, permit coordinator for the Fort Myers engineeringdepartment. The city gave Zombicon 30 days from the event to pay, meaningorganizers are about two months late.

The bill includes cleanup ($6,000), police presence($5,460), and renting a city stage ($119), Fellows said.

DeMarco said event staff is doing its best to pay thecity. Part of the problem is the city turned down Zombicon's application lastyear for a $50,000 special event grant, a decision DeMarco called a hugemistake. To save money in 2012, the city only awarded grants to events thatreceived money in 2011. Zombicon did not qualify in 2011 because it was not yetan official non-profit.

On Tuesday, city officials will meet to review the wayit awards those grants.

Zombicon organizers also tried something new in October- they put on a zombie convention at the Harborside Event Center, which featuredzombie vendors, entertainment and panels by stars from the movie "Day of theDead" and TV show "The Walking Dead." In previous years, there was noconvention, and the event consisted of tourists and locals in zombie makeuppartying on downtown streets. With the new convention, expenses skyrocketed fromabout $40,000 to about $160,000.

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Fewer than half as many people as expected boughttickets for the zombie convention. DeMarco said she was hoping for at least4,000 people. Instead, no more than 1,500 showed up.

"We truly thought more people would have come to ourconvention from our home town," DeMarco said. "We had out-of-towners come, butit seems the local people were more interested in the free party."

DeMarco was also hoping party goers would donate moneyto the cause, but not many did.

But Zombicon was successful in its charity drives,DeMarco said. The event brought in 5,016 pounds of food for the Harry ChapinFood Bank and 314 units of blood and 40 bone marrow donors for Lee MemorialHealth System.

Even if Zombicon is given a permit this year, without agrant from the city and donations from the local community, it may have to leavethe area, DeMarco said.

"We are definitely looking at our options - we haveto," she said. "We've definitely been approached by other cities and otherareas."

Ryan Walker, bar manager of The Red Rock Saloon onFirst Street, said Zombicon is their busiest day of the year .

"I would be very upset if they don't have it thisyear," he said. "Not only is it lucrative for all the businesses down here -it's fun."

Kazemi said the city last spoke with Zombiconorganizers more than a month ago, when organizers said they were still trying toget money from their sponsors and would pay off the debt. Now organizers are notreturning city calls, he said.

DeMarco said the city hasn't tried to call. Shewouldn't say how much money Zombicon raised in October, explaining organizersare still counting revenue and collecting money.

Zombicon can still receive up to $15,000 from the Lee County Visitor &Convention Bureau, which approved a grant to reimburse the event for out-of-areaadvertising, according to Nancy MacPhee, program manager for product developmentat the bureau. DeMarco said organizers are putting together final reports forthe bureau, and will receive the reimbursement once the reports are in.

Kevin Offerman, president of City Tavern on Bay Street,said his business doubled during Zombicon. It's a good event, Offerman said, andhe helped organizers last year with a $600 sponsorship.

"I appreciate the hard work that everybody puts intoZombicon," he said, "And I hope that it works out to where we can have Zombiconin the future."

Fewer than half as many people as expected boughttickets for the zombie convention. DeMarco said she was hoping for at least4,000 people. Instead, no more than 1,500 showed up."We truly thought more people would have come to ourconvention from our home town," DeMarco said. "We had out-of-towners come, butit seems the local people were more interested in the free party."DeMarco was also hoping party goers would donate moneyto the cause, but not many did.But Zombicon was successful in its charity drives,DeMarco said. The event brought in 5,016 pounds of food for the Harry ChapinFood Bank and 314 units of blood and 40 bone marrow donors for Lee MemorialHealth System.Even if Zombicon is given a permit this year, without agrant from the city and donations from the local community, it may have to leavethe area, DeMarco said."We are definitely looking at our options - we haveto," she said. "We've definitely been approached by other cities and otherareas."Ryan Walker, bar manager of The Red Rock Saloon onFirst Street, said Zombicon is their busiest day of the year ."I would be very upset if they don't have it thisyear," he said. "Not only is it lucrative for all the businesses down here -it's fun."Kazemi said the city last spoke with Zombiconorganizers more than a month ago, when organizers said they were still trying toget money from their sponsors and would pay off the debt. Now organizers are notreturning city calls, he said.DeMarco said the city hasn't tried to call. Shewouldn't say how much money Zombicon raised in October, explaining organizersare still counting revenue and collecting money.Zombicon can still receive up to $15,000 from the Lee County Visitor &Convention Bureau, which approved a grant to reimburse the event for out-of-areaadvertising, according to Nancy MacPhee, program manager for product developmentat the bureau. DeMarco said organizers are putting together final reports forthe bureau, and will receive the reimbursement once the reports are in.Kevin Offerman, president of City Tavern on Bay Street,said his business doubled during Zombicon. It's a good event, Offerman said, andhe helped organizers last year with a $600 sponsorship."I appreciate the hard work that everybody puts intoZombicon," he said, "And I hope that it works out to where we can have Zombiconin the future."