art mtnmommaI’ll admit I’m not the fastest draw in the West when it comes to pop culture fads. I’ve yet to watch an episode of “Glee” — although I’ve concocted a vague idea of what it might be about from overheard snippets between friends. And I still do double-takes when I see someone in skinny jeans, even though this tragic fashion trend has been in our midst for at least a couple of years.


But I was particularly slow on the uptake when it comes to the vampire and zombie craze. I remember staring slack-jawed at a mom-friend a few years ago when she told me she was staying up until midnight to see the release of the latest “Twilight” movie at Quinn Theater in Sylva. 

Her kids were in preschool, and she was hauling them to a teen heartthrob vampire movie at midnight? Really?

I put the backpedaling in high gear when she explained that the kids were staying home with dad. 

For a while, I put these zombie-vampire nuts in the same camp as Star Trek fanatics. A small but vocal minority — surely not destined for the mainstream.

Wrong again.

At last, I think I’ve found the perfect entry point to embrace — or at least dip my toe into — this cultural phenomenon that shows no sign of abating.

There’s a Zombie Run in Cherokee this Saturday (Nov. 2) that sounds like a hybrid of paintball, capture the flag and Hunger Games — a fun, action-packed activity to do with the whole family.

Participants are outfitted with a belt barring two red “life flags” at the start of the course. But they will have to fend off invaders from the zombie apocalypse trying to snag their flags along the race route. You can win back a lost flag at the “vaccination station” rest point, but crossing the finish line with a flag is crucial for your life status.

The race isn’t timed — it’s simply about finishing with at least one flag still in tact. The course follows wooded roads and paths, with obstacles along the way.

There will be a “decontamination zone” after the race to get cleaned up from the mud, “blood” and other “apocalyptic” fluids runners might encounter, before heading into the Walking Dead Shindig post-race party.

And it keeps getting better. Just to be a spectator, you pay $5. So you know it’s got to be good if you have to pay just to watch other people run the zombie gauntlet. Another option is to volunteer to join the zombie hordes along the race course.

The cost is $25 in advance, or $30 for day-of registration. The Zombie Run is a joint fundraiser for the Mountain Discovery Charter School in Bryson City and the Cherokee Historical Association. Check it out at

If you and the kids are suffering from post-Halloween let down this weekend, there’s a perfect remedy. Just stretch Halloween out a little longer with a line-up of haunted adventures also in Cherokee running nightly through Saturday, Nov. 2.

There are two frightening adventures plus a myths and legends walk and a scare-free kids zone, all held at the Mountainside Theater and Oconaluftee Indian Village.

Pre-teens and teens would get seriously psyched about the Haunted Theater and Little Dorm of Horrors, both put on with amateur actors and some seriously scary encounters.

There’s a non-threatening 5 Little Pumpkins Kids Zone, with an obstacle course, games, hayrides and kids magician Professor Whizzpop.

Or take a narrated walk along the paths of the Oconaluftee Indian Village while hearing stories of ancient Cherokee spirits and mythical beings. 

Tickets range from $5 to $10 for the various attractions. The fright-fest is put on by the Cherokee Historical Association.

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