Humans vs. Zombies

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So I asked my TLAB (Teen Library Advisory Board) students what they wanted to do for Halloween this year. And the verdict was unanimous: Humans vs. Zombies. With NERF guns. After hours. In the library.

*Cue hysterical laughter*

Don’t get me wrong: I love crazy, off-the-wall programs. But the prospect of hosting a full-fledged NERF war in the stacks after dark made me a little nervous. Would the Director go for it? Would people show up? Would we actually be able to pull it off?

Fortunately, the answer to all of those questions was yes. 🙂

IMG_1514In the weeks leading up to the event, we marketed our program. Hard. My volunteers made a commercial that was broadcast at the local high school and handed out flyers to all of their friends. Teens had to register in advance and fill out a liability waiver. I bought ten Zombie Strike NERF guns (since that’s all our budget would allow). The first ten registrants were guaranteed a gun; anyone else had to bring their own.

The night of, the teens arrived early. They “zombified” their shirts, did their makeup, and helped decorate the library. We used red paint to to create “blood splatter” on plastic tablecloths and hung caution tape. Then I turned them loose and had them shuffle around as our “starter” zombies. They snarled and lurched as the “human” participants arrived at the library. 🙂

The game play was pretty simple. We herded all the visiting teens into the survival shelter (aka our meeting room) for review of the rules.

Everyone, except my volunteers, started out as humans. Humans could shoot zombies anywhere but the head (our zombies were a special mutation). A zombie who got shot by a human had to go to a penalty box for 1 minute before rejoining the game. Any human who got two-hand touched by a zombie was “turned,” had to surrender their gun, and don a green “zombie” bandana. Myself, our director, and another adult served as referees.

In total, we had 24 teens participate in our Humans vs. Zombies Program. This one’s definitely going to be an annual event for us. 🙂

Teen Zombie Prom

Well, we survived: Zombie Prom, that is. 🙂 Here are the highlights for all you undead aficionados.

Decorations and Food:

Our color scheme was red and black, so we decorated with streamers, balloons, and blood spattered banners throughout the meeting room. Our “A Night to Dismember” pennant banner was hung over the food table. We also created cardboard tombstones and surrounded them with severed Dollar Store limbs and moss we collected from outside.

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For food, we offered two main options: severed finger cookies and undead cupcakes (that bled cherry sauce when bitten into). I may or may not have spent about six hours baking the aforementioned treats but, in the end, it was worth it. The teens loved them. We also had a ice brain mold floating in our “blood-filled” punch bowl. 🙂

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Most importantly, we also had a teen Zombie book display, featuring novels by Carrie Ryan, Darren Shan, Jonathan Maberry, and other zombie-writing authors. As a library, we strive to promote literacy at all of our events.

 Photo Booth:

We wanted to provide a spot for our guys and ghouls to commemorate their eerie evening, so we hung some velvet curtains, a “Zombie Prom” pennant banner, and arranged some extra tombstones for a freaky photo-op.

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Craft:

For our craft this year, we decided to keep it simple. We printed out 1-inch circular zombie images and the teens got to make bottle cap necklaces and key chains.

Costume Contest:

Just prior to showing Dance of the Dead, we had a costume contest. Each undead contestant strutted his or her stuff before our three judges. Each zombie was scored using a predesigned rubric. Our Zombie King and Queen each won a $25 Amazon gift card.

In total, we had thirty teens show up for prom this year – a whopping 67% increase over last year! 🙂 I’d say that’s bloody brilliant. Here’s to the zombies!

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Teen Zombie Book Display

IMG_2261So we’re bringing back ZombieFest this year in the form of Zombie Prom. We’ll be showing a zombie movie, crowning a zombie king and queen, and dancing to some zombie tunes. To celebrate and promote our event, I thought I’d create a deliciously creepy book display.

I pulled all of the zombie-themed books I could find, both from YA and the adult section:

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Zom-B by Darren Shan

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Mayberry

World War Z by Max Brooks

Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies by Seth Graham Smith

The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Using a white table cloth and some paint, my teen volunteers helped me create our “The Zombies Are Coming…” banner. To finish it off, I attached zombie “caution tape” over the windows, along with our zombie standee, a few severed limbs, some moss and a couple tombstones.

So far, it’s been a tremendously popular display. Here’s hoping it’ll help us successfully promote Zombie Prom!

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Zombie Fest 2013

Zombie teen volunteers!

Zombie teen volunteers!

Fun fact about yours truly: Halloween is my favorite holiday. I have a minor obsession with all things creepy and crawly. So do many of my teens.

So we held our first ever Zombie Fest this year and it was a tremendous success! We had book displays and give aways, zombie food, a costume contest, and watched Warm Bodies. 

 

Decorations:

We went all out for this event. We created fake “wooden boards” for the windows, had zombie cut outs hanging front the ceiling, and blood red table cloths. We even created a banner and had a “Zombie Goodies” table for participants.

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Station 1: The Entrance

Our teens had to walk through a row of tombstones to enter Zombie fest. Stan, our creepy standee, greeted them at the door.

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Station 2: Food

Our budget was fairly tight, so I did a lot of baking for this event. I made Zombie Fingers and Zombie Cupcakes (with oozing, strawberry centers). They were a huge hit. The fingers, in particular, were a source of much excitement. Some teens were too grossed out to try them! 🙂

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Station 4: Zombie Movie and Costume Contest

We had each zombie shuffle over to our registration table and pick up a number. He or she was then scored by one of three adult judges using a pre-printed rubric. The top three zombies received copies of Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Mayberry and The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.

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We had 20 teens come hang out for an afternoon of zombie-themed fun: a new record! We’ll definitely be bringing this one back next year!