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Iowa City’s fourth-annual Zombie Walk collects a record-breaking number

BY NICOLE KARLIS | SEPTEMBER 21, 2009 7:20 AM

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The living turned into the dead at the fourth-annual Iowa City Zombie walk this past weekend.

Mobs of people dressed as zombies paraded down Iowa City streets from Happy Hollow Park to the Deadwood to help raise awareness and donations for local charities.

“If you want to step out in the grass, we can bloody up your chin,” said zombie Tim Pemrich to a human in the process of inmortalization.

Approximately 150 participants spooked around town, the biggest crowd organizer and King Zombie Shawn Beatty has seen.

Last year’s event wasn’t comparable with this year’s deadly walk, Beatty said. Zombies traveled from all over the Midwest to participate in the thrill.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had this big of a turnout,” said Ashley Beyer, a junior at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wis.

This was the third year Beyer drove five hours to make herself up in bloody and gory wounds. Beyer is a former student of Beatty’s, and she plans to be zombified again next year.

“It’s just fun, a vacation really,” Beyer said.

However it wasn’t just the number of people, but the number of donations that shocked the event planners. The grand total of $1,723 was record-breaking.

“We usually just raise about $400 to $500 any given year,” Beatty said. “I was stunned.”



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This year’s donations had a personal connection to the UI community.

The money raised by the $10 T-shirt sales was donated in memory of UI graduate Christopher “Thor” McClatchey, a friend of Beatty who died last May of necrotizing fasciitis, a skin-eating bacterial disease.

Other charities benefited, including Iowa City’s Table to Table, which helps feed homeless and hungry populations — participants donated 71 pounds of food in addition to monetary contributions.

Zombie walks aren’t exclusive to Iowa City. Other states who have dared to welcome these scary phantoms include Wisconsin, California and Colorado.

“There are lots of them out there,” Beatty said.

While these deadly marches are usually for a good cause, it’s mostly just the fun of dressing up that attracts so many people.

“It’s a second chance at Halloween,” said participant Emily McCoy.

Beatty has already started to plan for next year’s event, he said, which will take place on Sept. 18 and will have a “flood relief” theme.

While some humans might be startled at the sight of zombies mindlessly tramping around, Beatty thinks it’s a great tactic to gain awareness to for a good cause.

“It gets your attention, doesn’t it?” Beatty said.


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