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Zombies to educate the Anchorage masses Saturday

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch
Gregory White of Toronto, Canada

An invasion is coming, and with it an End of Days practice-run. This Saturday, Oct. 20, a zombie mob will descend on the Z.J. Loussac Public Library in midtown Anchorage, Alaska. Their mission is simple: to prepare the masses for a real apocalyptic disaster, because you know what they say, "If you're prepared for a zombie apocalypse, you're prepared for any disaster."

The Alaska Department of Health and Human services (DHHS) and the Anchorage Public Library (APL) wish to invite the public to APL's Zombie Haunted Scavenger Hunt, an event in honor of National Zombie Preparedness month. The hunt will allow residents to test their monster evasion skills and their ability to avoid contracting the zombie plague through competition and education.

No serious zombie slaying skills are required to dominate the hunt, but participants will need to know a few things. First, the event is free, but registration is mandatory. Second, although running is not required, being quick on your feet will help you avoid infection. Although organizers are clear that people of all types and abilities will have a chance to evade zombies and avoid infection.

Third, not all monsters lumber alike and participants should be on the look-out for variances in "the infected." A player's ability to adapt will be of the utmost importance.

Fourth, successful competitors should be prepared to receive an education on disaster preparedness, including (but not limited to) stocking a disaster supply kit, making a family emergency plan, understanding public safety organizations' responses to a range of disaster challenges, what to expect at a point of distribution where supplies and medications will be handed out to large groups. And of course, participants will have a chance to experience a real disaster area, only without all that pesky danger.

Finally, participants may only experience the hunt once. If you make it out alive, the game's over -- you're a survivor.

The Loussac Library will offer two separate hunts, one for families with children under 12 and one for older children and adults. The "Little Survivor scavenger hunt" beings at 3 p.m. Saturday and runs until 5 p.m., but the bigger, longer, scarier and more difficult hunt will start at 6 p.m. and go until 9 p.m.

Be advised, zombie slayers, providing your current library card (you do have one, don't you?) will earn you a "zombie-repellent pass" (visit the website for details), and there will be a best zombie shirt contest for survivors, plus a best zombie costume contest for, well, the flesh-craving undead. The winners of both contests will be determined via Facebook votes.

Dawn Brantley, Anchorage Office of Emergency Management emergency programs manager "This is a creative, fun way to teach the same messages we have been teaching for years. People listen and learn when it's fun and exciting."

Mary Jo Torgerson, Anchorage Public Library director: "While this use of library space may seem a bit unorthodox, it is right in line with APL's role as a center of the community." Torgerson explains that the Loussac has hosted Safe and Sound Emergency Preparedness Fair events on APL grounds for the last five years. She adds, "Alaska is a long way from the rest of the country, so it makes sense to help residents learn to be prepared."

For more information on the Zombie Haunted Scavenger Hunts visit the Municipality of Anchorage's website here.