Draper Mercantile Hosts zombie walk

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Jonathan Fath


Draper Mercantile, the nonprofit and trading outpost, is reaching out to students again this Halloween for a spooky alternative to the usual college scene. On Oct. 29, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. they will be holding their first ever Zombie Walk to benefit hunger with the help of the group Feeding America. Participants will be dressing in their favorite zombie attire, donating cans to help end hunger in the New River Valley and staying for live entertainment.

“The Draper Mercantile is about celebrating and sustaining heritage, heart and soul in Southwest Virginia through showcasing the arts, music, food and recreation opportunities that make this area so unique,” said Ashley Gardner, Creative Director for the Draper Mercantile.

Looking at the Mercantile’s history, Debbie Gardner, owner and head, has always reached out to collegiate members for help aiding her many projects at the Mercantile. Over the course of the last year she has held fundraisers, helped support the trail, and focused all of her efforts on educating the area on the rich heritage the New River Valley has to offer. The Zombie Walk, which was thought up just a month ago, is yet another attempt at showing the area how charitable it can really be.

“We see this as a community-building event and we wanted for the food donations raised by participants to stay here in the area so that they could directly benefit people in our community who are most in need. We partnered with Feeding America Southwest Virginia because they are a wonderful organization that helps people here in our own community,” replied Ashley when asked why they decided on a zombie walk.

The theme itself was inspired by the other great number of zombie walks happening in neighboring states North Carolina and Tennessee. The Draper Mercantile staff also guaranteed any students involved in the Zombie Walk that come with canned goods for the food drive will be allowed free admittance for the duration of the event.

“I’m really excited for the Zombie Walk coming up. I’ve always wanted to be a part of one,” said Radford University sophomore, Kelsey Leek. With the holiday season coming up, the Draper Mercantile is doing everything they can to prepare for over one hundred students to pass through their doors for their event.

The Mercantile staff wanted to give the community something to talk about for years to come. With zombie walks being popular in neighboring areas such as Raleigh, North Carolina and Washington, D.C., they are attempting something that is not very familiar with this area.The walk itself will consist of one mile through the New River Trail followed by a private showing of “Night of the Living Dead,” a cult Zombie classic.

On top of the Walk for Hunger and viewing of “Night of the Living Dead,” the Draper Mercantile will also have live music and Ghost stories narrated by Jim Lloyd, a local storyteller.

The Mercantile, also partnering with RU, expects a turnout of 100 or more for their first annual Zombie Walk, and expect for it to grow for years to come. With the level of commitment they put in, anything is possible.