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October 28. 2013 1:20AM

Zombies gather to help fight hunger


Leyla Dejardin, 15, of Windham, Jamie Driscoll, 15, of Windham, Kaylee Bogazzi, 18, of Salem. Erica Croteau, 18, of Windham, and Gianna Denuccio, 14, of Salem, strike their best zombie poses in preparation for the Zombie Run at Granite State Church in Salem Saturday morning. Dozens of costumed "zombies" chased 250 or so runners through an obstacle course rse as part of the event, with all participants asked to bring food items for area pantries. (April Guilmet)


Kayla Mills, 14, of Hampstead, had some spooky makeup applied to her face in preparation for Granite State Church's first ever Zombie Run Saturday morning. The event was held to benefit area food pantries. april guilmet 


Top: More than 250 runners participated in the Granite United Church’s first-ever Zombie Apocalypse Fun Run on Saturday morning. Above: Deanna O’ Dwyer, 13, of Salem got a seriously scary hairstyle as she prepared to frighten runners at the Zombie Run Saturday morning. april guilmet 


Deanna O’ Dwyer, 13, of Salem got a seriously scary hairstyle as she prepared to frighten runners at the Granite State Church’s Zombie Run Saturday morning. (April Guilmet)

SALEM — For the 250 or so runners participating in Saturday's Zombie Apocalypse Fun Run, fighting hunger has never been such a hair-raising experience.

Sponsored by the Granite United Church, which has campuses in Salem, Londonderry, Lawrence, Mass., and Haverhill, Mass., the event benefitted food pantries in each of the church's respective communities.

With 50 costumed middle and high school students from church youth programs portraying hungry zombies, the church's main headquarters in Salem was transformed into a scene straight out of "The Walking Dead."

Participating runners weren't charged admission to participate but were asked to bring nonperishable food items.

Many of the runners weren't affiliated with the local mega-church, which was just fine with Gregg DiCecca, one of the church's several pastors.

DiCecca said the main goal was to integrate the church's message of community inclusion in a public event, while lending a helping hand to neighbors in need by sharing hundreds of packaged food items.A dozen or so professional makeup artists from Canobie Lake Park's Screamfest volunteered their services, transforming area youth into some seriously scary zombies.Other volunteers worked outside the Sand Hill Church throughout the previous week, using discarded tires, logs, a junked car and other repurposed items to build an apocalyptic obstacle course.

Runners raced over logs, climbed under wire fences and scrambled over plywood walls to outrun the "hungry" zombies.

"It's been all kinds of crazy," said Youth Pastor Tom King, the event's main organizer. "Obviously our biggest mission is to help keep the local food banks full … and have some good old family fun while we're at it."

The day also featured a variety of bounce houses, snacks and spooky photo sessions.

"It's nice to be able to show them that church can be fun," King said. "Events like this have a way of bringing all of us together, and at the end of the day that's what it's all about."aguilmet@newstote.com


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