'Walking dead' roam through Connellsville streets while kids have fun at East Park and visitors enjoy a 'horror' marathon
Zombies roamed the streets of Connellsville on Saturday while kids enjoyed Halloween activities in East Park and visitors to the Edwin Porter Theater in the Connellsville Community Center had their choice of a variety of “horror' classics, including the cult classic “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” after a scavenger hunt throughout the town and Halloween experiences at the Carnegie Free Library on Pittsburgh Street.
A large crowd gathered on Prospect Street in front of the former Conn-Area Catholic School Building on Saturday morning as they awaited for the start of the Running Dead race. More than 250 runners and zombies ran the streets of Connellsville.
The event was organized by city residents Jeff Monahan, Gary Colatch and Mark Hofmann.
A portion of the proceeds from the event went to the CAHS Patriots. The group helped out on Saturday and with organizing the run. The remaining portion of the proceeds will be used as seed money for the event which is planned for next year.
At East Park, the second annual Boo in East Park was held, welcoming more than 200 kids and family members.
The event was sponsored by the Connellsville Recreation Board, where members and volunteers helped children in events that included pumpkins, candy, a bounce house and an obstacle course that was part of the Running Dead race.
The event was held all afternoon as kids came to East Park to get candy, show off their costumes, decorate pumpkins and take part in the fun, Recreation Board member Greg Lincoln said.
Hundreds attended the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the Edwin Porter Theater in the Connellsville Community Center, and organizers were also excited about the turnout for the first scavenger hunt the community center hosted.
“We had about 250 in attendance and most people can't wait until next year,” said Angela Hamman, who helped organize the “Rocky Horror” performance at the Porter. She said about half of those in attendance at the 11 p.m. showing dressed in costumes.
Organizers of the Running Dead run and Boo in East Park and community center events were proud of the turnouts.
“I'm really amazed. We had much larger crowds then we had anticipated. We had heard that similar events in other towns drew big crowds, but we had no idea how something like this would do in the town of Connellsville,” Hofmann said.
Lincoln said the Boo in the Park was so well attended, organizers ran out of pumpkins.
He said the event was successful due to the support of the community including donations received from the Polish Club, the Slovak Club, the VFW, the Moose and Martins. There was also a bounce house that was donated by owners Tom and Adrian Murphy who own Hip Hop Hurray.
Many adults showed up at East Park for the event in costume, enjoying the Halloween fun along with the younger children.
Participants in the Running Dead race said they enjoyed it — it was something different.
Brian Hineman of Dunbar Township dressed as a zombie. “It's not often that you can get all dressed up crazy and go out and have some fun and not have people looking at you like you‘re weird. This is cool.”
Monahan, Colatch and Hofmann began planning the event several months ago. They wanted to bring something new and fresh to the city — not only for participants — but also to draw attention to the City of Connellsville.
“This is a good way to bring people into Connellsville itself and hopefully they will have a good experience and want to come back,“ Monahan said. Monahan said the three men already have ideas for next year.
Runners waited patiently along Prospect Street while the zombies were bussed to 14 locations along the route where they tried to snatch flags from the runners.
“We've been excited about this for months,” said Scott Provance of Connellsville as he prepared for the race in full zombie garb. “I think that this is a great way to bring the community together.”
CAHS Patriots volunteers supported Saturday's run.
“I thought that this would be a fun thing to do,” said Samuel Fabian, a Patriots volunteer. Fabian, 16, staffed the Patriots booth, which was selling hot dogs. “This is different and fun and it took a lot of effort from the people that planned this to make this work.”
Participants in the race came from far and near, including some from neighboring West Virginia and Ohio.
“We heard about this from some people that we knew and thought that we'd try it,” said Hunter Toothman from Morgantown.
“We are planning to make this an annual thing now,” said Leah Casto, also from Morgantown.
Hofmann said as they start planning for next year's event, organizers will use this inaugural event as a guide.
“This was our first one and everything didn't go exactly as we had planned, but we'll learn from that for next year,” Hofmann said.
Organizers promised the registration process will be tweaked and the course changed or at least altered.
“People commented on the first hill (Prospect Street) that maybe it was too steep but other then that, they said it was great,” he said.
The winner of the run was Brian Suter of Connellsville.
“Next year we will definitely be doing some things different but we know now that the interest is here,” Hofmann said. “People seemed like they really enjoyed this and we are still in shook over the response that we received.”
Hamman said that since the “Rocky Horror” showing was so successful, community center officials are planning to show the film more then once next October.
“Next year we will do four shows, one every Saturday in October,” Hamman said.
“I think that the zombie run showed that people are interested and we had a great turnout at the Boo in East Park,” Lincoln said. “I heard some great things about the other events and everyone seemed to have a good time. Overall, it was a great day to be in Connellsville.”
Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.
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