Zombie March for charity
Zombies will invade Iowa City on Saturday for the Fourth-Annual Iowa City Zombie March — an event that raises money for various charities while allowing people to unleash their inner thirst for blood. The family-friendly event will kick off at Happy Hollow Park. Participants can meet for makeup help at 3:30 p.m. or arrive at 4:30 p.m. in costume to learn about local charities and make donations. The walk begins at 5 p.m. and lasts around an hour — ending at the Deadwood Tavern, 6 S. Dubuque St.
“Of all the things you can do to volunteer and raise awareness, I mean serving in soup kitchens, picking up garbage off the highway — those are all noble things,” former Iowa City resident and UI graduate Shawn Beatty said. “This is far enough off the wall that people are like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to go out there, be weird, and be a zombie.’ ”
During the day, Beatty is a high-school Japanese teacher in Menasha, Wis. By night he is King Zombie — webmaster of kingzombie.com and leader of the undead. His site is dedicated to selling a variety of zombie collectibles from miniature replicas to board games.
Beatty organizes the Zombie March every year, but he said he can’t take credit for coming up with the idea. There are similar events around the nation.
“I missed a zombie march in Madison, and I was like, ‘Dammit, I can do my own,’ ” he said. “I thought it would be a great way to raise awareness, and I thought Iowa City would be the perfect place to have it. Zombies marching into town will get your attention.”
Each year, Beatty puts together a list of charities and businesses to help sponsor the event. In turn these charities set up tables in Happy Hollow Park, where participants can donate money or food items.
Beatty also picks one cause that he raises money for by selling T-shirts. This year, he is dedicating the Zombie March to his good friend and fellow UI graduate Christopher “Thor” McClatchey, who died of necrotizing fasciitis, a rare skin disease.
“The money is going to be donated to two charities,” Beatty said. “Thor’s family wants to donate something in his name, and they will pick where the money goes.”
Beatty initially started the event because he thought it would be a great way to get more people interested in doing charitable work.
“It hits a sector of society that might not ordinarily volunteer to help out and raise awareness,” Beatty said. “Blood drives attract regular people. With zombies you’ll get some of the alternative kids who will go, ‘Oh cool.’ ”
Beatty enlists some Iowa City residents to help set up and promote the event. UI graduate and clinical laboratory scientist Joshua Christain has been attending the Zombie March since it first started, and Beatty refers to him as his “man in the ground.”
“It’s just a fun event and is a strange thing you don’t normally get to do,” Christain said. “My wife and son are going. It’s kind of become a weird family thing.”
Saturday marks International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and Beatty said pirate zombie costumes are recommended. Christain said his family tries to wear different costumes each year for the event, but the most important thing is acting like a zombie.
“What makes a good costume I think it’s more in your body language,” he said. “Fake blood is wonderful, and makeup is fantastic, but if you’re walking around and talking like a normal person, you’re not a zombie.”
Beatty encourages people to bring $10 for a T-shirt, some extra cash for other charities, and cat or dog food as donations. However, he said, the event is free, and people should still show up even if they don’t have spare cash.
“C’mon this is too much fun to pass up,” Beatty said. “You promote charity, you get to dress as a zombie, and have a really good time.”
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