By Julia Ferrante
LEWISBURG, Pa.— If you dare to venture downtown tonight, consider yourself warned: The zombies will be out in force.
Hordes of undead are expected to descend upon the borough for the first Lewisburg Zombie Walk, starting at 6 p.m. in front of Vedder Hall on the Bucknell University campus.
The event, similar to zombie walks coordinated in big cities, will set the stage for a 7 p.m. screening of "Night of the Living Dead," the 1968 film directed by George Romero. A screening of "The Feed," a locally produced horror film, will follow at 9 p.m., marking the one-year anniversary of its premiere, said Jessica Paquin, an event organizer and producer of the movie.
The price of the two films is $10, with all proceeds benefitting Community Harvest, a weekly hot meal program in Milton for those in need or seeking companionship, said Paquin, a coordinator in Bucknell's Office of Civic Engagement.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em
Participants in the Zombie Walk are asked to stay in character as they pass by neighborhoods and a cemetery and arrive at the Campus Theatre on Market Street.
Those wishing to embody their roles or just blend in may follow a few rules of thumb. First, when transforming to a zombie, you can never have too much blood. Second, zombies don't walk; they lumber. And third, zombies don't want your brains; they want to protect theirs.
"It's a common misconception that zombies' favorite food is brains, but really it's you," said Steve Gibson, writer and director of "The Feed" and the video and new media developer at Bucknell University. "As long as you're warm and alive, they want to eat you."
Other rules of the zombie world to keep in mind for the walk, from Paquin and Gibson include:
- Zombies are dead people who have come back to life. Think gray or yellow skin, dark circles under the eyes.
- Zombies may appear in their "funeral best," somewhat tattered and covered with dirt after arising from their graves. Or, they may be more groomed if they died in the streets or in the line of duty after being bitten by another zombie. This is why zombies are often seen as dead versions of police officers, bakers or paper boys.
- Zombies will not eat one another.
- The only way to kill a zombie is to destroy its brain.
The Bucknell Interfraternity Council (IFC) helped organize the event, which is open to the public. Organizers hope to make the Zombie Walk an annual event.
"Everyone and anyone is welcome," Paquin said. "We hope everyone gets really creative and has a lot of fun. Innocent bystanders beware."
Junior Paul Allegra, an English-Creative Writing major and the community service and philanthropy chair for the IFC, worked with the Office of Civic Engagement to organize the Zombie Walk with the intent of raising money for the Million Penny Project, which each year awards $10,000 to a local charity. The organization has chosen Community Harvest as this year's beneficiary.
The IFC wanted to create an event that involved not just Greek organizations but the entire Bucknell and Lewisburg communities, Allegra said. Participants are encouraged to make a $5 donation to support Community Harvest.
'Night of the Living Dead'
Romero is largely considered the godfather of zombie films, although the word zombie is not used in the film, Gibson said.
"They refer to them as 'those things,'" Gibson said.
Even so, Romero enthusiasts will tell you many of the rules of the zombie world were set in the film. Romero's zombies, for instance, are slow and lumbering. "Fast" zombies premiered in "28 Days Later," running after their victims, which was considered scarier than zombie portrayals of the past, Gibson said.
The Feed has won more than a dozen major awards including its selection as best feature film in the Atlanta Horror Film Festival and audience choice at Horrorfind in Gettysburg. Its stars include Bucknell alumni Scott Stieler, Class of '87; Sam Nelsen, Class of '11; and several Bucknell staff members, including Paquin.
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