You may have heard the warnings: The Zombies are Coming!
Well, this time, it’s not just hype. The zombies are, in fact, coming! On Saturday, May 19th, at 1 p.m. in Maritime Heritage park, the Black Drop Coffeehouse’s third “Save our City: Zombies vs. Humans” water balloon tag will begin. This annual event has garnered city wide attention for the last two years, with last year doubling in attendance, and this year’s event expected to draw at least 200 participants.
This completely free event has been the high point of the year for staff and for regular customers since its inception 2010. Participants gather at Maritime Heritage Park to hear the rules and get their water balloon ammunition. They then disperse throughout the “containment” zone (marked with chalk on the sidewalks through Downtown) and spend the next two hours in a game of tag, where players marked as zombies try to “turn” players marked as survivors, and survivors “defend” themselves with water balloons to “freeze” the zombies and allow them to escape.
This year, with more and more interest being shown and many different age ranges wanting to participate, the Black Drop has decided to change the event slightly to allow for more varied game play. This year, participants who wish for a more immersive experience are encouraged to form “teams” to complete an objective based mission, which will require strategy and planning as well as cooperation. Players who simply want to play tag, like previous years, will still be able to do so. As in previous years, a “zombification station” will be centered in the middle of home base, and make up artist volunteers will be on hand to turn players who want to dress up as zombies into zombie nightmares, complete with fake gore.
Organizers Scot Casey and Stephanie Oppelaar say they hope the greater structure of the event this year will provide the framework to continue to grow the annual game in a way that still allows participants to feel involved and welcome, while still attracting new players. “We do it because it’s a great way for the whole community to get the chance to play together, while still adding our particular brand of quirky” says Oppelaar. The Black Drop has become known for inventive and offbeat events like this, such as the horror movie they show every Valentine’s Day (the event is called “My Bloody Valentine”,) board game nights, and retro video game tournaments in the shop after hours. Casey and Oppelaar say this is just another way the shop interacts with the community, providing all ages events where people can meet new friends or spend time with existing ones. Says Oppelaar, “So much of our lives are lived connecting with others only briefly, or behind computers or texting or social media. The original idea behind a coffee house was a place where the community could come and interact, and that’s part of what we are trying to do. By having fun events like this, we and the other businesses who help sponsor them are sharing our sense of playfulness with our community, and inviting them to bring their own fun to the table.”
Joining the Black Drop in sponsoring this event are Downtown businesses Merch Bot, Eagles Games and Hobbies, Film is Truth, Mod Sock, and newcomer Unknown Board Shop.
The full rules for the event as well as details for play and inspiration for costumes will be available a week before the event on the Black Drop’s Facebook Page, as well as their website, www.blackdropcoffeehouse.com.