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Zombies to invade Connellsville

| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 12:46 a.m.
Paula Johnston, one of 'The Running Dead' organizers, passes out flyers for the Saturday race during the recent Connellsville Mum Festival.
Paula Johnston, one of 'The Running Dead' organizers, passes out flyers for the Saturday race during the recent Connellsville Mum Festival.

The zombies are coming! The zombies are coming!

The zombies and runners will invade Connellsville on Saturday for the first Running Dead event, which has developed into an all-day, all-ages event.

Registration will begin at 10 a.m. at 110 N. Prospect St., the former location of Conn-Area Catholic School. The zombie run will begin at noon. Spectators are encouraged to line the route.

Runners will start at 110 N. Prospect St., turn left onto East Peach Street, left onto Water Street, left onto Fairview Avenue, right onto South Arch Street, left onto West Green Street, left onto Baldwin Avenue and then right through the tunnel to East Park. They will continue on the paved walking path with a few objects to bob and weave around (and may include a zombie or two), but nothing intense or physically straining. They will then exit onto Run Avenue, turn right onto Franklin Avenue/Wills Road, right onto Carnegie Avenue, right onto East Orchard Alley to the finish on Prospect Street.

The distance is 2.57 miles and has zombies scattered along the way that are after the flag belts worn by the runners. The runners must avoid the zombies and end the race with their three flags intact. The runners with the best time and most flags will win a prize. The zombies with the most flags will win a prize.

The Connellsville Recreation Board will handle the East Park part of the zombie run. Any adult zombies who would like to be in the Zombie Prison are asked to be at East Park at noon. Any little zombies who want to participate, to help scare the runners, should also be there then.

BOO for children ages 2-12 (must be accompanied by adult) will be held from 1-3 p.m. There will be trick-or-treating, games, a pumpkin patch and a bounce house from Hip Hop Hooray. Prizes will be given for best costumes. The concession stand will be open. Any organization that would like to participate may contact the recreation board.

The Zombie Olympics will take place after the race near the starting point and will include such competitions as a Brain Eating Contest, Zombie Idol, Zombie Trivia and Scream Queen Contest. Prizes will be given to the winners, including those deemed to be the bloodiest zombie, sexiest zombie, most creative zombie group, best zombie moan and best zombie stride.

Carnegie library getting involved

Carnegie Free Library will also take part in The Running Dead events offering children's activities, including spooky story time from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with assistance from Hundred Acre Woods Daycare and Learning Center. There will then be a screening of famous spooky, family friendly television episodes from 2 to 3 p.m., and a special screening of the documentary, “Haunted States of America, Carnegie Free Library,” discussing if the library is indeed haunted. Refreshments will be sold.

The Running Dead awards ceremony will take place near the starting point at 110 N. Prospect St. about 3 p.m., where the runners and zombies from the race and participants from the Zombie Olympics will receive their prizes, and the home-decorating winners will be announced and given their gift cards from Fun Party Stores.

“We want to remind those who are still decorating that we carry Halloween must-haves that can be found at our stores, including fog machines, spider webs, tombstones, window clings, door covers, costume award ribbons, pumpkin-carving kits,” said Cassandra Buncie, marketing manager at Fun Party Stores. “Pumpkin decals are new this year and we do have a variety in stock. Classroom treats include prepackaged and bulk items, which can be distributed to a class or even at your home, such as candy novelties, temporary tattoos, stickers, pencils, spider rings and more.”

More fun at community center

The Connellsville Area Community Center will participate in the zombie fun. A scavenger hunt will start at 4 p.m. Registration begins at 3:30 p.m. at the center, 201 E. Fairview Ave. Participants are required to wear costumes. Also, a horror movie marathon (see related story for more details) will begin 4 p.m. in the Porter Theater at the center.

All the movies (except “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”) are free to view by the race participants. Those who aren't participating can bring a canned food item to donate at the door for the Connellsville Area Community Ministries food pantry. They can then see whatever movies they choose throughout the day, except “Rocky Horror.” Admission to “Rocky Horror,” which starts at 11 p.m., is $5. Those viewing the movie are encouraged to dress in costume. They also can buy a prop bag at the theater for $10. A shadow cast will be performed in sync with the movie to give the movie a true 3D experience. Vendors from the zombie run will be in the community center during the movie marathon.

To reserve seats and order props for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” call the Connellsville Area Community Center at 724-626-0300.

The movie night will be the local premiere of the film “Corpsing,” written and directed by Jeff Monahan. The movie has been described as something of a romantic Frankenstein story. It's about a woman and her relationship with a former lover and a humanoid she created from spare body parts.

“It's really a pretty campy mix of horror, science fiction and love story, kind of a fun popcorn movie on one level, but with some deeper themes threaded in, like feminism and how far we'll all go for love,” Monahan said.

The film was shot in several locations in the Pittsburgh area.

Willing zombies to be filmed

Not only will the zombie participants be able to watch the movies at the Porter Theater, they also will have an opportunity to be a part of a zombie movie. Writer/director Joe Shelby will be on hand after the run to film any willing zombies to be a part of his upcoming independent zombie film.

“Dr. Castle and His Cinemaniacs Examine: House on Haunted Hill” is part stage show/part movie inspired by the classic cable television show “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” where three characters watch old cheesy movies and make fun of them. The show was written by Mark Hofmann and directed by Ed Kelemen and was recently produced at the Philadelphia Street Playhouse in Indiana.

“I'm excited for Dr. Castle to be a part of ‘The Running Dead' and the movie marathon. I'm sure the audience will have as much fun watching it as we did making it,” said Hofmann, a co-organizer of the race. “The horror movie marathon is just one more exciting, fun feature about ‘The Running Dead.' It's another opportunity to have people come, explore and stay in Connellsville. We have a variety of classic horror with ‘Night of the Living Dead,' new horror with ‘Corpsing,' comedy with Dr. Castle and the ultimate cult film with ‘Rocky Horror.' Why wouldn't you want to stay in town?”

Half of the proceeds of “The Running Dead” zombie run will be donated to the Connellsville Area High School Patriots. The other half will go into a bank account controlled by the Patriots and will be used as seed money for next year's run and even more events that will surround it.

“Local businesses, organizations and clubs should really take advantage of the numbers of people we're expecting to come to the city,” Hofmann said. “Bud Murphy's, for example, will have its Halloween party that night and will have specials throughout the day. So, you can watch/participate in the zombie run, go get lunch, come back to see the Zombie Olympics, do some shopping in town, see a movie at the Porter Theater, go grab a drink and dinner, come back and watch another movie at your convenience.”

“We're all excited with how many things have come together for our very first daylong event,” Monahan said. “We have physical fitness, movies, dance, contests, and more. It promises to be a fun day for everyone, including the spectators, who will hopefully join in next year. I want to bring more artistic endeavors into Connellsville, and hope that this is just the beginning of what can be a series of projects. And, of course, the zombies will be back next Halloween.”

“The way ‘The Running Dead' has taken off has been nothing short of amazing. The run and everything following it will prove to be a major event in Connellsville that we will continue to see grow and live on,” Hofmann said. “I'm so pleased with how everyone has come together — the organizers, the volunteers, the businesses and individuals who have become sponsors and those in the community who have really become a big part of this thing. It's been tremendous.”

Runners and zombies who have preregistered will receive a commemorative T-shirt. Registrants the day of the event also will receive a T-shirt while supplies last. If the T-shirt supply runs out, they will be reordered and mailed out later to participants, organizers noted.

For more information, visit or email questions to connellsvillezombies@gmail.

Nancy Henry is a contributing writer.

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