SHERIDAN — With her face covered in zombie makeup, Karson Vielhauer wandered the Fulmer Public Library Tuesday with arms extended toward her possible next meal.
“Grrrrrr,” she rumbled at unsuspecting passersby.
Vielhauer’s instant zombification was a result of the Zombie Fest put on by the Tween Club at the library, where students talked about how shows and movies about zombies have ascended to the epitome of pop culture.
“This month we’re doing things associated with Halloween, and zombies you really can’t ignore,” said Kevin Knapp, who works in the Wyoming Room of the library.
While the event was for fun, all the events put together for the Tween Club have an educational angle, and this wasn’t an exception.
Knapp told the children about how organizations use the zombie pop culture status to push their agendas.
“There’s comedy books, there’s kids picture books, there’s economics, emergency preparedness books,” Knapp said.
From an educational point of view, he said, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has used the zombie craze to educate people about emergency preparedness on its website. Others have used it to promote fundraising for a variety of organizations.
“Or they just use it for advertising the next season of Walking Dead,” student Henry Dickinson said.
Knapp also used the activity to talk to children about a real-life instance where people have pointed to zombification in ants.
In the rainforest there is a fungus that, when its spores land on an ant, causes them to act peculiar.
“It affects their brain and causes them to wander around,” Knapp said. “Other ants recognize it and know they have to kill it, otherwise other ants will start acting the same way.”
Knapp said because the fungus needs sunlight to survive, and then ants are in the rainforest where little light exists, they will climb to the tops of trees and die. Then, they’ll release more pollen and start the process again.
“Gross!” Vielhauer shouted.
Vielhauer, while willing to wander as a zombie for fun, has no doubts in her mind about whether human zombies exist.
“Science has proven it to be scientifically impossible,” she said.
But that didn’t keep anyone from getting into makeup and wandering outside the library doors with arms extended.
Knapp gave students advice for how to make bite marks that appeared real.
“The trick is to use glue and toilet paper,” he said.
With that, some of the children went on to explain their Halloween plans.
“For Halloween I’m going to be a zombie with a bite mark on my arm,” Dickinson said. “When people ask, I’ll say ‘Oh, it’s just a scratch.’”