Excitement is Building…

 

By: Leisa Rae


I must admit, the month of October has always been one of my favorites. Well, considering it contains my birthday and Halloween, I'd have to say it is definitely my favorite. And this year, Main Street Paragould and 107.1 JACK FM (the radio station where I work) have teamed up to put on an event like Northeast Arkansas has never seen! The 1st Ever Downtown Paragould Zombie Walk!

I haven't always been a zombie fan. I was nineteen before I ever played 'Resident Evil' on PlayStation. But from then on, I was hooked. The games, the movies, the new TV series 'The Walking Dead'...they all intrigue me. For me, it's the fun of planning how I would react in a zombie apocalypse. I feel like if I am prepared for that, then I am prepared for any disaster that could strike. Apparently, the CDC feels that way as well, just visit their website and you'll find a zombie preparedness checklist! Face it, we all entertain delusions of grandeur; winning the lottery, what we would do if we became President, what life would be like if we had or had not made past decisions, and yes, how we would handle the zombie apocalypse. Most of us don't believe that it would ever happen. But, it's still fun to entertain those thoughts.

I do have friends that enjoy zombified entertainment. Even my husband, who missed the first two episodes of 'The Walking Dead' but then caught part of the third and suddenly had to see it from the beginning, joins in my fascination with zombies. At first, I thought it was an elite few of us who appreciated zombies and what they could teach us. I am now realizing that there are many more than I originally anticipated! The number of "likes" on the Zombie Walk event page and the amount of feedback I and my colleagues  have received from the community is astonishing!

So join me, my little zombie friends, as we take over Downtown Paragould!

However, along with anything new and exciting, there are those who don't understand or who disagree. Please believe me when I say that I am not out to change opinions, bash anyone, or call anyone a nasty name. But I would like to take a moment to clarify a few things.

The Zombie Walk is sanctioned by Main Street Paragould and the local radio station (107.1 JACK FM). Gina Jarrett, of Main Street, Brian "Big O" Osborn, Fuss, and myself (all of JACK FM) are working to create some excitement in Downtown Paragould. We have heard over and over again that there is nothing to do or nothing new in Paragould.We heard you. We want to change that. We have jumped through all of the necessary hoops, received permission from the right authorities, and have obtained the essential permits associated with putting on an event in the Downtown area. And this could be the first of many new events for Downtown Paragould. In fact, all proceeds are going to benefit Main Street Paragould, in the hopes of funding future events.

I would like to thank our gracious sponsors, The Paragould Cinema 8 and The Golden Grotto. Their help covers the cost of putting this event together.These things do cost money. Renting the equipment to show the movie, paying the necessary fees, and advertising the event all have associated costs. Without the help of these fine establishments, the Zombie Walk would just not be possible, as is true with any event.

We realize that there will be a lot of people in the Downtown Area for the event and whenever there is a huge gathering, problems could occur. That is why the Paragould Police Department will be at the event to help with traffic and keep an eye on things.The Walk will follow a predetermined route. Alcohol is prohibited, and illegal activities will not be tolerated. This a family event, we want to keep it that way.

On that note, the Zombie Walk is an event intended to be fun for all ages. Admission prices have been kept low so that whole families will be able to participate without breaking the bank. Hey, these are hard times!  Keep in mind that when we say 'kids" we are referring to those 18 and younger. Parents, you know your child. You know whether or not they can handle seeing zombies. For example, last year I took my daughter, who was four at the time, to see 'Night of the Living Dead the Musical' at the Collins Theater, which a good friend wrote and directed. I explained that zombies are just people with makeup pretending. She understands that concept and whenever she sees a zombie points to them and says "Mommy, those are just people with makeup". However, I do not allow her to watch zombie movies or even 'The Walking Dead' TV series. As a parent, I hate it when someone else tries to tell me how to raise my child. That's why I recommend you simply use your own judgement. There will be no violence allowed at the event, so if you want to bring your young child, then by all means do so.

The event is highly publicized through radio and magazine advertisements as well as web and social media, even posters. In fact, a simple Google search of "Zombie Walk Paragould" will return information about the zombie walk not only on our own website and Facebook pages, but also on other pages that have heard about the event and are now letting their fans know about it! arkansasgeekcentral.com (A listing of all things geek in Arkansas. Yes, I suppose we are considered geeks!), mapuse.com (A listing of festivals and events across the country!), hotlist.com (Which connects users with "cool" events in their areas.), and even KAIT8.com (Yes, our local Television News Team.) have picked up word about our event and are spreading it like wildfire across not only Northeast Arkansas, but the state and the entire country!

I can't pretend not to be excited about this! Why? Because many other cities have held Zombie Walks with great success. Cities like New Jersey, Long Beach, Detroit, Houston, Phoenix, San Diego and even Dublin, Ireland! The response in those cities was so hugely positive that their Zombie Walks are becoming yearly events and breaking attendance records with each year! And we have fielded calls from interested people from as far away as St. Louis who are planning to attend. So, this could become a very good tourist attraction for Downtown Paragould! And you know, tourism means dollars for our local businesses!

Speaking of local businesses, we are allowing vendors! You can find the application for a vendor booth at neajackfm.com/view/zombie-walk. If you want to create anything zombie related (I'm thinking zombie cupcakes would be AWESOME!!! Or hey, maybe zombie t-shirts!) or offer things that appeal to festival type crowds (Glow necklaces are cool!) then fill out an application and get it to Gina Jarrett!

This is simply something new, different, fun, and exciting to do on the Saturday before Halloween. A night to pretend! We all need a little fun and the chance to escape reality once in a while. As adults, how often do we get a chance to do that? So put on your zombie makeup or dress like your favorite zombie movie character and come on out! Make sure you familiarize yourself with the event rules and details, all by the way found at www.neajackfm.com