Zombie/human standoff in Council Bluffs was apocalyptic and family-friendly

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Posted: Monday, October 28, 2013 12:00 am

No killing zombie Flanders.

No killing anyone, for that matter. And don’t hurt them, either.

The standoff between zombies and the “guardians of civilization” special forces Saturday night in the 100 block of West Broadway featured fun and the walking undead. But it was safe, too.

“Only Nerf-type weapons, no head shots,” said volunteer Michelle Graham, who spent the afternoon before the second Council Bluffs Zombie Walk explaining the rules of the showdown between the living and the undead. “We focus on safety.”

About 700 participated in the walk, which went from the 100 block to First Avenue, where the zombies were met by special forces. A brief battle ensued, with the zombies winning.

“This is great, I enjoy seeing people out here, happy,” said 11-year-old Breydon Major. “And seeing people get scared, get spooked. That’s part of the fun.”

Breydon’s dad, Shane, organized the event, inspired by similar walks he’d worked as a deejay.

“The zombie genre is growing,” he said. “With the emergence of (TV show) ‘The Walking Dead’ and (book and movie) ‘World War Z’ and more, it’s put together intelligently instead of just blood and gore. That’s attracted people.”

Major said he wanted to help provide a fun, family-friendly zombie event to his hometown. The walk and standoff were the culmination of an all-day zombie extravaganza Saturday. The day’s activities included face painting, food vendors with pig brains and Council Bluffs-based Heartland Invertebrates, which showed off a variety of tarantulas, including two males – an Arizona blonde and a Chilean rose hair – along with a Brazilian white knee female.

“We work to dispel myths and misconceptions,” said Jen Newman, who runs the organization with her husband, Chris. “Movies paint spiders in a bad light.”

The couple explained that there are no recorded instances of humans dying from a tarantula bite, while no species of the arachnids is venomous enough to kill. They help keep insect populations in check and are a great alternative pet, Jen said.

“There’s no noise, no smell. They eat about every week to two weeks, food costs are low and no vet bills,” she said. “A lot of people have arachnophobia. We want to help people get over that.”

Inside Barley’s, students with the EQ School of Hair Design applied makeup to anyone that wanted to become a zombie. Debra Davis with the school and movie makeup expert James Hawkswell explained that the first step is killing the flesh tone, then adding sunken rings around the eyes. Then comes the damage – blood, cuts, etc.

“I wanted to a be a zombie, it sounded like fun,” said 14-year-old Hope Gray, who lost a lot of skin on the side of her face.

Gray and sister Amanda Turner, 21, made the trip from Shenandoah to Council Bluffs on Saturday to buy Halloween costumes and check out the zombie fest.

“We wanted to walk around, freaking out people,” said Turner, who’s damage included a rotting chin.

Asked why people enjoy zombies, Turner talked about the combination of fun and fright.

“Fear,” she said. “You’re fascinated by this stuff, even though you’re afraid.”

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