Halloween is coming and with it comes the final days to hunt zombies in Manhattan.
Since 2015, Fox Hole Paintball and Airsoft has transformed into a forest infested by zombies every Friday and Saturday during the month of October, Bethany Parker, owner and Kansas State alum, said.
“Last year was our first year doing it and it was kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing, like ‘hey, this would be fun.’ We didn’t really have much of a plan,” Parker said. “I helped run it last year and when I took ownership this year I decided, since it was a really big hit last year with no plans involved, that I really wanted to put some effort and see how it turned out, with advertising and real plans going into it.”
Parker said advertising was a big part of the plan for this year’s hunt. Except for television, they have announcements on radio, social media and they also handed out flyers for small businesses to distribute.
“I do a lot of social media,” Parker said. “We have also partnered with 97.5 and 103.5 and they run an ad every week,” Parker said.
Of course, Parker alone could not possibly make everything happen. A group of people joined Parker as zombies, cashiers, safety briefers, guides and various other positions. One who has done it all is Lance Driggers, third year pre-veterinary animal science major.
Driggers said one of the secrets for this to work is to get people in the mood. To get more people interested in going through the hunt trail, they first tell the groups stories and try to get them to the point were they believe there are real zombies.
Because there are groups who go every weekend, they change the stories and the location of the zombies every day, so no matter how many times you go, it will always be different and surprising, Driggers said.
“The first week I was one of the zombies. I was one of the last zombies people came to so I would stay up as long as possible and get as close to people as I possibly could,” Driggers said. “People really enjoyed it, many times people will be impressed like ‘this guy stands there for a really long time’ so that gives you a rest.”
Another zombie is Nicholas Willi, heavy equipment mechanic for Midwest Concrete Materials, Inc., said he decided to be a zombie because of his daughter, who is also one of the zombies. He really enjoys doing it and getting to see how people react to it.
“My favorite part about the zombie hunt is that we make it unique for each group that goes through it,” Willi said. “Without giving away the surprise, their reactions to it are priceless, more than my costume. I also carry a prop that adds even more terror into the trail.”
Parker said the zombie hunt is a 15 to 20 minute trail and is recommended for a group of about five people. He said there is no age limitation and the only two rules are to not take your own gun and once the zombies are down, to stop shooting at them. The entire trail with the equipment costs $15.
In 2015, they got an average of 75 people per night. This year, however, the turnout has increased with an average of 100 people per night and they expecting this weekend to be their fullest yet, with an expectancy of 150 to 200 people each night.