300 turn out for Evanston’s first zombie run


Caroline Olsen/The Daily Northwestern

Children and families run from volunteers dressed as zombies during Evanston’s first Zombie Scramble. The event was hosted by the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services department and included races for both families and adults.

Lisa Chen, Reporter

Evanston hosted its first Zombie Scramble race Saturday evening, drawing about 300 registered participants.

The event, held by the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services department, started in Butler Park and ended at the Ecology Center, 2024 McCormick Blvd. Participants went through the obstacle course either individually or in teams. Each runner wore flags on their waists and had to get through the obstacle course without getting “infected” by the zombies, who tried to pull off their flags, said Joe McRae, director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services.

In addition to the course, runners participated in three challenges, including completing a puzzle and cleaning out the inside of a pumpkin. Participants lost a “life” if they didn’t complete the challenges or if they had their flags taken. “Life packs” were hidden on the course and, if found, provided the runners with an additional life.

McRae said he hoped the event would create a sense of community for Evanston.

“It’s just good fun,” McRae said. “It’s a nice, new event. The community has responded really well. We got a much larger group than we actually anticipated in terms of 300 people.”

The parks department, which plans programs for the city, proposed the idea of the Zombie Scramble a year ago, McRae said.

To accommodate the different age groups of the attendees, the event was divided into “family-friendly” waves, which started at 5:30 p.m., and “adult-only” waves, which started at 8:30 p.m., according to the city’s website.

“The game is the same. Everyone gets flags and if you get your flagged pulled, you’re out,” McRae said. “With the adults, we might be a little more scary.”

Most of the zombies were student volunteers from nearby high schools and Northwestern. Cole Miller, an Evanston Township High School student, said he devised strategies with the other volunteer zombies to catch the runners. 

The Zombie Scramble attracted participants from outside of Evanston as well. Courtney Vaive, who lives in Romeo, Michigan, said she came to Evanston to visit her sister’s family for Halloween. She said she was most looking forward to getting chased by zombies with her nephew.

“It’s just a fun family experience,” Vaive said. “I get to come down here and see my family and we don’t have anything like this back at home. This is pretty cool.”

Evanston resident Madison Dempster said the Zombie Scramble is an exciting opportunity to be more active.

“I think everyone should try something fun like this and not live life sitting on a couch,” she said. “They should try to do something fun.”

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