Run for fun, exercise and the brains of the living in Delaware County's spookiest 5K run and walk, set for this weekend.
Residents dressed as the living dead will invade a Powell park for a Zombie 5K Run/Walk/Shuffle and costume contests, sponsored by the Delaware County Emergency Management Agency. The run stems from the agency's participation in an emergency preparedness drill last year at Ohio Wesleyan University that tested local law enforcement and emergency personnel with an invasion of faux zombies, portrayed by volunteers.
The event is set to start with registration at 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at Highbanks Metro Park's Dragonfly Day Camp in Powell. The entrance to the camp is located on Powell Road about a mile west of U.S. Route 23.
The 5K, for children and adults ages 8 and older, will kick off at 8:30 a.m.
The event also will feature a costume contest for children at 9:30 a.m., a pet costume parade and contest at 10 a.m., and an adult costume contest at 10:30 a.m. Children and pets can dress as zombies or in any other Halloween costume.
Delaware County EMA Director Brian Galligher said residents should break out their spookiest zombie makeup for the event, but to remember young children will be present.
"Scary costumes are great, but nothing too gruesome or over the top," he said. "It's all about creativity, but we want it to be in decent taste."
He said parents should use their best judgment when deciding to bring young children.
Participants who don't want to dress up are also invited to run or participate in the festivities in their regular clothes as "survivors" of the zombie outbreak.
All pets are invited to participate in the Howl-O-Ween costume contest, but Galligher said to use common sense and bring cats and small pets in carriers if necessary.
"It could be any pet," he said. "If someone wants to dress up their turtle and bring it along, go ahead."
Also during the event, the Emergency Management Agency, Delaware County Health Department, Red Cross, Orange Township Fire Department and others will set up booths at the park.
Representatives will provide tips and information about "common-sense" ways to prepare for fire, floods, tornadoes and maybe even a zombie apocalypse.
Plaques will be awarded to the top two men and women to finish the 5K; the top two adult costumes; the top two boys and girls costumes; and the top three pet costumes.
No strollers, pets or children younger than 8 years old are permitted on the race course.
The entire event is free, and T-shirts will be available for purchase.
Galligher said it might become a yearly event for the Delaware County EMA if turnout is good.
For more information or to register, visit co.delaware.oh.us/ ema/zombie.