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Zombie-themed activities planned to benefit ETSU Natural History Museum

Jennifer Sprouse • Oct 25, 2013 at 12:18 PM

The schoolyard game of tag is dead.

At least it will be on Saturday at East Tennessee State University, when humans and “the dead” scatter throughout the campus for a game of Zombie Tag and other zombie-themed events.

The daylong event, a fundraiser for the East Tennessee State University and General Shale Natural History Museum Visitor Center and Gray Fossil Site, will kick things off with a Zombie 5K, co-sponsored with ETSU Campus Recreation, at 10 a.m.

“Basically, we’re encouraging people to dress up as zombies if they want to, to come and run in the 5K,” Dr. Blaine Schubert, director of the Don Sundquist Center for Excellence in Paleontology and director of the Natural History Museum, said. “(ETSU President) Dr. (Brian) Noland is going to show up. Come and run with Dr. Noland as a zombie.”

The cost to participate in the 5K is $15 for students and $20 for non-students, and each runner will get a Zombie 5K T-shirt, according to zombietix.com, the event’s website.

“At noon is the kids event and that’s on the intramural fields,” Schubert said. “That’s actually a Zombie Tag event. It’s sort of going to be a flag Zombie Tag. We encourage everyone to dress up as zombies.”

According to zombietix.com, the kids event will also feature face painting, inflatables and treat bags for participants and is open to children ages 5 to 12. Tickets to the kids event are $5.

The teen event, for ages 13-17, will be identical to the main Zombie Tag event, Schubert said, where individuals and groups of “humans” wearing black shirts will be released in the playing field on campus, where they will try to navigate and not get tagged by “zombies” wearing white shirts, as they try to complete all six stations.

“You’re contained within an area by a temporary fence that we’re putting up,” he said. “When the events start, there will be starter zombies in there. The starter zombies ... are notable people from campus. So, deans, chairs of departments, popular professors will be starter zombies. You are trying to make it to all six stations and then get back out (of the playing field) without getting tagged. If you do get tagged, you have to change your black T-shirt to a white T-shirt. Then you start tagging people.”

He said during the event some zombies will be removed from the playing field, as more humans start to turn into zombies and begin to outnumber the surviving humans.

The six stations, hosted by groups such as the ETSU Anthropology Club, will stamp the humans, to show that they’ve completed and made it a certain level.

Each participant or group will be given a map at the beginning of the game to help them reach each of the stations.

The teen and main Zombie Tag events are $10 for teens and adults, and for $35, participants can purchase a survival kit for the game, according to the website.

Whether you survive the entire game, or are turned before reaching the first station, Schubert said all participants in the events are eligible for prizes.

Throughout the Zombie event grounds and playing fields, merchandise and food vendors will be available in one designated area.

Makeup artists will also be on site Saturday to help zombie-fy visitors and participants for the event.

“Often times the science fiction of today is the science of tomorrow, so many of the things that seemed impossible 50 years ago are now things that have already happened in the realm of science,” Schubert said. “I think there’s a great deal of interest by scientists in science fiction. There’s also the tie in of paleotology in zombies in that as paleontologists what we actually study and what we actually do is try to bring dead things back to life by reconstructing what they were like. As paleontologists, we are sort of in this world of doing the best we can to bring something that’s long gone back to life.”

The proceeds raised from the Zombie Tag events will go toward the Natural History Museum’s education and exhibits programming.

“We’ve never had a really large fundraiser before,” he said. “Right now, we don’t have any funding in place for traveling exhibits, so our goal is to bring in a really nice traveling exhibit if we raise enough money. Our role as a Natural History Museum is not only to teach people about what’s found at the Gray Fossil Site, in terms of fossils, but to bring science to our region and get people interested in science.”

“We’ve been preparing for this for over a year. I hope it’s a very successful event and that we’re able to continue with this sort of zombie theme and that it will grow and continue to bring in support for the Natural History Museum,” Schubert said.

For ticket and event information, visit zombietix.com.

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