Tag. You’re dead.
It’s as simple as that in the game of Zombie Tag. East Tennessee State University was barricaded off Saturday evening for a game of tag with a twist. Once you’re caught, you’re dead, and designated to catch survivors and have them join your zombie army.
More than 500 people participated in the action, running for their lives through campus buildings, all to raise money for the ETSU and General Shale Natural History Museum and Visitor Center and Gray Fossil Site.
Scott Clark, a member of the board at the fossil site, has experience running special events and helped organize the game for a good cause.
“We’re doing it for a cause,” Clark said. “The money goes to the traveling exhibit costs we have. They cost around $20,000 a month, and that’s money we don’t get from ETSU.”
“Living” participants, who were wearing black shirts to boast their living qualities, were let loose through barricaded areas in an attempt to avoid numerous white-shirt-wearing zombies and reach each of the six checkpoints, earning a stamp at each. If caught by receiving a two-hand touch, the living person is turned into a white-shirt-wearing zombie. There were also a few safe zones mixed in throughout the chaos. The original gang of zombies was comprised of volunteers, which included students and faculty.
Some of the zombies were quick and some were slow in chasing living players. One zombie dragged his foot behind him as he slowly moved after his targets, while another was hot in pursuit of his, screaming, “fast food!”
Different strategies in survival were given by the players.
Brittany Lutzo, a former Milligan College student, said she played both the living and the dead, and the best way to avoid the zombie chasers was to run for your life because it was too light outside to hide. Lutzo hit four of six checkpoints before being caught once and for all.
She and her boyfriend had done a similar event a few years ago, had fun and were excited to do it again.
Troy Hollins, a former mixed martial arts fighter, also hit four of six, and gave sound advice for running away from fit zombies.
“Don’t be old, fat and out of shape,” Hollins joked. He said in a real zombie apocalypse, he’d be better suited, because two-hand touch wouldn’t kill him and he owns too many guns and has lots of biker friends. Hollins said he heard about the event through a friend, knew it was for a great cause and had to come out and enjoy himself.
The adult game of Zombie Tag was the last event in a whole day of zombie excitement. Earlier in the day there were teen and children’s version of the tag game. To kick off the zombie-themed day was a 5K run around campus, where prizes were awarded to those racing in the best costumes.
Dr. Blaine Schubert, director of the Don Sundquist Center for Excellence in Paleontology and director of the Natural History Museum, said that although ETSU President Brian Noland ran the 3.1-mile course in a full zombie costume, the winners of the contests were two women dressed as a zombie ballerina and a zombie princess, with a man in a full suit as an honorable mention.
Brittany and Justin Houston, from Erwin, said they were big fans of the zombie television show “The Walking Dead,” and decided to make the Zombie 5K their firsts. After finishing with such strong support and having had some much fun, they decided they’d stick around and play Zombie Tag, too.