Zombies take over downtown

ZombieTown contest draws ‘blood,’ ‘brains’

Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec Ayden Thomas, 6, of Patton attends ZombieTown USA at the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum with his mom, Shana, on Friday. Events today include a ZombieTown Downtown Concert with Agent in Chains from 6-9 p.m. on the Altoona Mirror Railcar Stage.

For many contests, brains are a prerequisite for success.

On Friday evening at the Railroaders Memorial Museum, brains were the reward.

It’s the second annual ZombieTown weekend in Altoona, and jelly doughnuts oozing red matter — “brains” — comprised the victors’ meal for the zombie costume contest that was Friday evening’s highlight.

Female contest winner Eva Reeseman, 27, of Altoona was wolfing down her doughnut — which looked to be topped with cherry pie filling — wearing deathly white makeup and tattered clothing.

Like many of the 30 contestants who limped and dragged their feet across a patch of spotlit grass in front of the flatcar stage in the museum yard while several judges observed, Reeseman has long been a zombie fan.

For her, it began eight years ago, when she came down with a case of admiration for “The Walking Dead” TV show.

“Story and gory,” she said, explaining the attraction. “Survival and sticking together no matter what,” she added — making it clear that the infection was more than superficial.

She was accompanied by a couple of friends, including Trudy Peterman, whom she likes to call her “mom.”

“She’s my dog walker,” Peterman said. “She does about anything for me.”

Despite Reeseman’s fondness for gore, she’s “a really good kid,” Peterman said.

She loves animals, and they love her, Peterman said.

Her dogs, however, were nonplussed that afternoon after Reeseman donned her zombie gear — including a large rubberized scab, she said.

On the masculine side, winner J.B. Weatherwalk, 35, of Altoona adjourned to a picnic table in a quiet part of the yard with fellow contestant and girlfriend, Marjorie Ellis, away from the larger clots of people, who numbered about 250.

Weatherwalk has been a zombie fan since the age of 13, after he began to sink his teeth into movies like the “The Night of the Living Dead.”

It seemed to him that zombies — in contrast to werewolves and vampires — could plausibly exist, if you accepted the possibility of an experimental government program gone awry.

“I was interested in the whole apocalypse thing,” he said.

As a teen, he also dressed as a Goth, and began playing Dungeons & Dragons and Shadow Run.

“I was into all kinds of death stuff,” he said.

Asked whether he felt foolish competing Friday, he said “no.”

“I love doing this,” he said.

It’s his dream to be part of “The Walking Dead” cast, he said.

ZombieTown continues today with a full slate of events.

Go to zombietownusa.com for details.

The main organizer of the event is Nova6, a local marketing firm.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.