Zombies may not have the iconic frontman that vampires have in Dracula, but when it comes to chills and thrills, the so-called "living dead" are headliners these days, as evidenced by their drawing power in television, movies and books.
To cash in on the craze, and draw teens into the library at the same time, Whitehall Public Library is staging a free Zombiefest. The first-time program will be held outdoors at 6:30 p.m. July 24 in the Brennan Plaza beside the library, 100 Borough Park Drive, Whitehall.
Teens are encouraged to craft their best dead-on zombie look for an evening of games, fun and zombie-licious treats; the menu includes dead man finger sandwiches, slime aide, brain cupcakes and puff pastry intestines.
In addition to a costume contest, activities include developing a library survival plan for a zombie apocalypse, drawing zombie faces on marshmallows and creating celebrity zombies.
A zombie walk to Michael Jackson's 1983 "Thriller" music video also will be held.
"It shows how popular zombies were even then," children's librarian Denise Ignasky said.
Zombies can be traced back to the 1932 film, "White Zombie."
George Romero's 1968 cult classic, "Night of the Living Dead," filmed in the Pittsburgh area, spawned more films in the genre, including the director's other films, "Dawn of the Dead" and "Day of the Dead."
Today, zombies are featured in "The Walking Dead" television series and the films "World War Z" and "Warm Bodies."
Even children's books have been written on the topic, such as "My Pet Zombie'' and "Our Zombie Brother."
The idea for Zombiefest came from a committee of library staff members from throughout the county who work in teen services.
"We wanted to capitalize on teens' interest in zombies to get them into the libraries to see all we have to offer," committee member Leeann Anna said. She is teen services coordinator for Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh District Library Center.
Known as interest-based programming, Zombiefest was offered as optional programming to all the county libraries, along with other teen-oriented offerings.
"I've never done anything zombie before, so this will be the first for me," said Staci Zemaitis, who will conduct the Whitehall program with Ms. Ignasky.
"I'll be doing some zombie research so I am ready to go," Mrs. Zemaitis noted.
All teens are invited, no matter where they live. Registration is required. To register: Mrs. Zemaitis, 412-882-6622 or email@example.com.
Margaret Smykla, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.