MOUNT DORA – It sounds like a menacing scene guaranteed to terrify people: a city like Mount Dora, its downtown crawling with zombies.
Anyone who has watched the AMC series “The Walking Dead” knows how unsettling a scene like that can be, to see an urban area transformed into a wasteland for zombies on the prowl.
Then again, if Caitlin Dallinga has her way, it will also be a lot of fun – particularly for the little kids in zombie costumes.
“We were trying to get something that is new and fresh, and the zombie stuff is really taking off with ‘The Walking Dead,’ “ Dallinga said. “We’re trying to reach out to the adolescent young people, but we also want to make it fun for the entire family.”
The event, coming up appropriately enough in October, is the first annual Mount Dora Zombie Crawl. It’s an afternoon street party that will combine a costume contest with live entertainment, food, a movie – and, of course, plenty of zombies.
“It is our first annual event,” said Dallinga, the general manager of Uncle Al’s Time Capsule, the shop at 140 E. 4th St. in downtown Mount Dora that is co-sponsoring this event along with the Mount Dora Library Association.
Dallinga, who is also the youngest member of the Mount Dora Library Association’s board of directors, said the organizers wanted an outdoor event that gets people into the Halloween spirit, was spooky and fun at the same time, and enabled the crowd to enjoy the city’s historic downtown.
“We want to see how it goes, and to keep it going next year,” she said.
Zombie Crawl will be held on Sunday, Oct. 21, from noon to 5 p.m. in front of Mount Dora City Hall, which is at 510 N. Baker St.
“We’re going to have entertainment in the park,” Dallinga said. “It’s a zombie costume contest as well. There’s a small fee to enter, and there are cash prizes.”
The top prize, given to a group of four well-decked out zombies, is $200. The prize for a group of two is $100, and the “baby” prize is $50.
The entry fee is $20 for each individual, $50 for a group – “which can have up to five zombies,” Dallinga said — and $10 for children ages 10 and under.
“The costume contest will take up the majority of the time at this event,” she said.
In addition to that contest, there will be a raffle drawing for a special item built around the “Walking Dead” TV series: a Walking Dead doll modeled after actress Madison Lintz, who plays the character Sophia Peletier in the AMC series.
“It’s a Walking Dead doll and we got it signed by the actress herself,” Dallinga said. “It’s one of a kind. That’s our top raffle item.”
There will be live entertainment from the Bay Street Young People’s Theatre in Eustis, which teaches children and teenagers about theater, acting and dance, and produces plays for older audiences. Run by Joel and Amanda Warren, the acting company will be doing its own performance of Michael Jackson’s hit song and zombie-themed music video “Thriller.”
“It’s the kids from our program who are performing it,” Amanda Warren said. “Our main performance is all our kids have learned the choreography to ‘Thriller.’ ”
The students, she added, will range in age from seven to seventeen.
If capturing the moves of the popular Michael Jackson song and video sounds pretty elaborate, Warren said that as a choreographer, she’s staged “Thriller” numerous times in past Halloween seasons.
“As a choreographer, I’d say it’s actually something that as the holidays arrive, always comes along,” she said.
Dallinga said she’s calling this afternoon at Donnelly Park “Lawn of the Dead,” and if that evokes memories of film director George Romero’s zombie thrillers, Dallinga said that’s appropriate as well.
“We’re showing a movie in the community building,” she said. The Mount Dora Community Building is next door at 520 N. Baker St. The movie, appropriately enough, is Romero’s 1968 horror classic “Night of the Living Dead.”
“That will be playing at 5 (p.m.) if people want to stay afterwards,” she said. “After that we’ll have food and vendors. It will be a street fest.”
And, hopefully, it will be just a little bit scary, too, in keeping with the TV series that inspired this outdoor party. After all, Dallinga said, the show’s success demonstrates how appealing zombies can be to a mass audience.
“I think it’s just a scary concept that some people think is going to happen, that the world will be taken over by zombies,” she said, adding that at the first annual Zombie Crawl, “We may get a zombie chasing people around on a segway.”
It promises to be, Warren said, a mix of scary — and fun.
“If you want to leave the kids at home, it’s still enjoyable for adults because they are showing ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and there are zombies walking around, but there’s also a lot of kids stuff incorporated into it as well,” she said.
To learn more about the first annual Zombie Crawl, call 352-383-1958.
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