Zombies come alive Oct. 4 to help the hungry in Gastonia

The Charlotte Observer
Gaston/Catawba News
Saturday, September 27, 2014

The living dead rise to help the hungry and homeless Oct. 4 for the third annual Downtown Gastonia Zombie Walk and Food Drive.

Courtesy of Downtown Gastonia Zombie Walk 1000 participants came to last year’s event. Robb expect 1,300 this year.

Courtesy of Downtown Gastonia Zombie Walk
1000 participants came to last year’s event. Robb expect 1,300 this year.

This family-friendly street festival includes performances from local indie rock bands like The Menders and The Ramparts, a scavenger hunt, dead walk, and more than 40 vendors representing artisans, crafters, nonprofits, food and even reptiles.

Event organizer and “Walking Dead” fan Sue Ann Robb said, “Everyone is into zombies these days, but it’s a great way to get the younger generation involved in the community.”

The walk not only boasts entertainment, but goes dead for donations, collecting canned goods for local food pantries BREAD, Inc. and The Salvation Army Center of Hope. Every person who donates two nonperishable canned goods is eligible for a free zombie makeover by Paul Mitchell School of Gastonia and Boy Scout’s Venture Crew 6.

Bessemer City resident Robb said, “I wanted to do something to address the issues of homelessness and poverty that are big in Gastonia – helping the people who need it and bringing people back into downtown Gastonia.”

Last year, the food drive collected 1,100 cans of food for BREAD, Inc., a faith-based nonprofit that provides food for the homeless, elderly and low-income individuals and families in Gaston County.

This is the Salvation Army Center of Hope’s first time benefiting from this event. The organization’s Capt. Mark Hunter said, “Our food closet desperately depends on drives such as this to provide for 500 to 600 families per month.”

Even the kids have a deadly good time.

Even the kids have a deadly good time.

The event will also hand out prizes to the best dead man and woman walking, as well as for the scavenger hunt winner who finds the most fake body parts. The prizes are zombie packs with commemorative event T-shirts, DVDs of Season 4 of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and “The Zombie Survival Guide” by Max Brooks.

Robb said, “Above all else, we just want everyone to come out, support downtown and the local community and have a good time.”

Robb, 39, has been a small business owner in the downtown area for 2 1/2 years; she owns Running with Scissors hair salon and co-owns the Retro Sideshow Vintage & Thrift store. She said she’s seen the area revitalize into an artsy district since the recession and hopes the event will bring more traffic into downtown. “I remember the hustle and bustle of downtown Gastonia as a child, and I’d like to see that happen again.”

Courtesy of Aaron Kendrick - Prints for sale at the walk.

Courtesy of Aaron Kendrick – Prints for sale at the walk.

Aaron Kendrick, a Gastonia resident and artist, will be selling his drawings for the cause. Kendrick, 32, said he will give away 100 percent of the proceeds to The Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, local food pantries and a friend’s family that is battling cancer. He will even have goodie bags for kids, a cornhole game and a raffle for free artwork.

“This may seem like an ordinary zombie walk but it is really so much more – local small businesses and the community coming together to have some fun and help raise money for multiple causes. … There is going to be all kinds of wacky fun to be had. I’m just happy to be a part of it all and hope to see it get bigger and better in the years to come.”

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