Zombie Damien Rennie comes out from behind his tree to try to catch runners as they make their way through the spider web obstacle in the woods near the Sportsplex Sunday. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

The zombie apocalypse has arrived in Campbell River!

‘We’re getting more and more families coming out every year, which is great’

Hundreds of terrified children ran for their lives at Willow Point Park on Sunday as hordes of undead combed the woods and fields surrounding the Sportsplex searching for live flesh to sustain them.

Well, not really.

It was, however, the site of the annual Zombie Escape event put on by the City of Campbell River, Strathcona Regional District and Campbell River McDonalds.

Kara Shirley, programmer for the City of Campbell River and Zombie Escape coordinator, is in her fifth year of organizing the event, and says it’s been amazing watching the event become what it is.

“We’ve had an awesome turnout again this year,” she says. “We’ve had probably 250 to 275 runners this year, along with all of our amazing zombie volunteers, and we’re very happy to have everyone come out and have fun with us again.”

Shirley says the growth of the event has been wonderful to see, especially in terms of the demographics that have been taking part.

“We’re getting more and more families coming out every year, which is great,” she says. “It’s become a really awesome family event. People are coming with their kids and their grandparents and they’re all running together. It’s fantastic.”

A large portion of the zombie contingent is usually made up of members of the Campbell River Storm, but this year the team had a game that afternoon, so they couldn’t participate.

“Next year we’ll try to plan that better,” she says with a laugh, “but thankfully we had a lot of other people and families step up and volunteer to take their spots so we have more than enough zombies to scare people.”

One of those zombies was Damien Rennie, who was back for his second year.

“It’s fun,” he says. “But it’s even more fun to see all the kids really enjoying themselves.”

Rennie’s girlfriend, Kelsi Giesbrecht, came along for the fun this year, as well, and says she totally gets the fascination with zombies and why this event has grown into what it’s become over the years.

“I feel like people see it as being not really that far off,” she says. “Honestly, I don’t even see it as a paranormal thing. Like, maybe it could happen one day. You never know. And I think that scares people and makes it fun.”

Zombies get to participate in the event for free, while individual runners do pay a small fee to take part.

“We don’t make any money on it,” Shirley says. “The money we collect from the runners just goes into paying for us to put it on, and thankfully, we also have Campbell River McDonalds on board who has been generous enough to donate a lot of funds to help buy flags and help us run this event every year.”

Next up for the City of Campbell River’s recreation and culture department is the annual Repair Cafe, where the public can bring their broken electrical appliances, power tools, jewelery, clothing and more to the Sportsplex on Nov. 3 from 9 a.m. to noon and have someone take a look at it to see if they can be repaired and kept out of the landfill.

Follow “Recreation and Culture Department, City of Campbell River” on Facebook to stay on top of upcoming events.