Scranton has kicked off the 2013 Halloween season with flair at the Second Annual Zombie Survivor 5K Race. Unlike traditional “zombie walks,” where hordes of the costumed creatures shamble around a town, this event began as a normal race with living human participants. At several points throughout the course, however, the racers were attacked by “zombies,” whose goal it was to tear the streamers off the runners’ waists, effectively “eating their brains.”
Prior to the run, those who had not done their own gory makeup had the opportunity to be “zombiefied” by volunteer makeup artists. One participant, Lacey Olbryk, allowed this Gazette reporter to follow her through the process, from the first layer of foundation, built up to form realistic-looking “skin tears,” to the cherry flavored fake blood she poured into her mouth. She transformed herself into a zombie for the run last year, as well, and described the day as “just a really great time.”
While this event was the largest of the Infect Scranton 2013 weekend, it was just one part of the celebration. The festivities began on Friday night with a group of zombies doing a pub crawl—or shamble, as the case may be—through Scranton. In addition to Saturday’s run, a convention was held on both Saturday and Sunday. Here, undead enthusiasts had the opportunity to shop for zombie-themed books, music, dolls, clothes, and more. The convention also included lectures by makeup artists, authors, and actors in hit zombie shows, including AMC’s acclaimed television thriller, The Walking Dead. The lecturers and booth operators seemed to be having as much fun as the audience. One vendor, an illustrator named Jason Lenox, told me that he loved these particular events because the crowd is always so passionate and excited.
Zombies are growing ever more popular in our culture. The aforementioned program The Walking Dead, which will begin its fourth season in October, has garnered millions of viewers. Walks and other similar events for those who enjoy dressing and acting like the living dead are held across the country. On October 5, for example, the Zombie Walk of Asbury Park, New Jersey, will attempt to reclaim its place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the Largest Zombie Gathering, a title it lost last year to the 8,027 participants of the Minneapolis, Minnesota, Zombie Pub Crawl. This writer is personally a rabid fan of all things zombie and has participated in many such gatherings, in several different states. Attending Infect Scranton was especially exciting because, after three years of living here, I have come to love this place. Fun events like this help to keep a town alive and interesting. (Yes, ladies and gentlemen, hordes of the undead can make people feel alive). I hope that this “infestation” remains an annual occurrence and continues to infect others within our community.