Renovation Unearths Signs of The Past

Southington’s Gura Building was originally built in 1925 according to land records. Located at 93 Main St., the brick building was given the name Gura Building to honor the town’s late health director, Dr. George Gura.

The vacated historical site sits adjacent to the Town Green and was saved from the wrecking ball. In 2012 the building faced a decision to either be sold to a developer, demolished or leased and used by a non-profit. Previously the building was used in a municipal capacity as a town hall annex housing services such as the Finance,  and Community Service departments. Over the course of history, the Gura Building also served as a police station.

A $1-a-year 20-year lease was approved by the town council in July 2014 after the Southington Community Cultural Arts (SCCA) fulfilled a condition set forth by the town to raise 80 percent of estimated renovation costs of $1.27 million. SCAA raised $1.1 million, helped in large part by a $500,000 contribution through the State Bond Commission.

Mary DeCroce, leader and spokeswoman for SCCA,cites the new community arts center will incorporate classrooms, studios and a performance space. Bookmark and visit SCCA’s site, and in particular the Project Update tab, to learn about the events leading up to the renovation and to see the progress underway.

Florian Properties LLC, a local development firm is supervising the project for SCCA, a non-profit arts group. The cold temperatures aren’t stopping the work. The facade front windows are boarded up but will be replaced by new picture windows.

The interior has been been completely gutted out and Thomas Damon-Smith, Project Foreman, has put aside artifacts he found within the building. A huge metal safe will be cleaned and preserved to serve as a keepsake to the building’s history.Other items such as wall calendars look as vibrant today as they must have looked when first rolled out.

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A crumpled cigarette package reminds us how far we’ve come where smoking is concerned – in 2015 smoking inside is banned from many office buildings. Did employees light up inside the Gura building in years past?

Stay tuned for more photos and if you have your own memorabilia and recollections from either working in the building or what you are looking forward to in its new art capacity, reach out to me at to share your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you and capture your Southington experiences via video interview.

Stranger Fear: Is It Unfounded?

Watched ‘Blackish‘ a new ABC series last night where the episode focused on the father character, a hip and attractive Andre “Dre” Johnson, (played by Anthony Anderson,) tries to impress his nonchalant son Andre Johnson, Jr., (played by Marcus Scribner), on the significance of Martin Luther King Jr., holiday and in general on being, well, blackish.

He goes about trying to prove what he thinks is a blatantly racist world we live in. He provokes every situation they encounter loudly AND obnoxiously.

Fast forward to tonight’s sunset. It was a clear sky with a gradient hue developing as the sun made its way to the horizon. The last few days cold made today feel like spring, even though 31 degrees is still cool. After sitting indoors all day till 5:30 I was compelled to pull over on the approach ramp to 691 East. There’s a full view of Hubbard Mountain, and it appeared purplish as that sun was saying farewell. I set the hazard lights to flash and tucked the car inside the white line next to a metal divider separating me from a deep ravine to the right.

With the set to ISO to 12800 I leaned into the steering wheel for a 1/50 second exposure at f8. If the viewfinder where a canvas I’d be painting in orange and near-to-black colors.

IMG_6503I was so absorbed in what I saw through the viewfinder I didn’t notice a car had pulled behind me. A blue light flickered from inside the car and thinking it had to be a police vehicle, I got scared nonetheless as the officer approached my window. He asked if everything was ok and it was, but I couldn’t help but to blurt out, “You scared me for a minute!”

Why would I be scared? For not knowing what to expect? I wasn’t completely sure if this person was a cop, with nothing to identify the car as such, only a hint from its interior blinking light.  I feared it wasn’t a cop and why would anyone pull behind me and approach? I thought what profiling must feel like in that moment.

He was actually a young officer, perhaps four or five years older than my own son. He had a flashlight in hand, more like a small penlight, not unlike something I just purchased for my son so he could find his way around. Glad the officer didn’t use it … that would’ve felt weird him peering inside my car.  I said I’m taking photographs of the sunset, and wondered if he thought I was a loony! He smiled and said I’m fine to stay where I was, he was only checking.

Imagine if instead of an on ramp in a busy area of Meriden, CT,  I was in Fargo with no street lights? Too many movies and real life events of late that gets my imagination active.

Artists Honor Vets in Give Back Event

Ginger Grant shows family their portrait during 'Thank You Photo Shoot' event at Artist Tree Tea House & Gallery 156 in Bristol.

Ginger Grant shows Van Houten family their portrait during ‘Thank You Photo Shoot’ event at Artist Tree Tea House & Gallery 156 in Bristol.

If you do what you love enjoyment follows. That sentiment is the driving force behind the Artist Tree Tea House’s totally free ‘Thank You Photo Shoot,’ event held at the studio to honor veterans and their families.

Dori Green, proprietor of Bristol’s Artist Tree Tea House & Gallery 156, (ATTH&G156), sponsored the event in conjunction with volunteer photographers Ginger Grant of Ginger Lee Originals, G.L.O. Photography and Lynn Keeler Fisher, who is also a veteran.

The idea to pay it forward comes naturally to all three women, each of whom shared perspectives why they give their time and talents. Green, a relatively new entrepreneur in this brick and mortar space, brings a multitude of skills to her business, which opened in 2013. Green’s creativity encompasses painting, event production, catering, hairstylist, make-up and massage therapy.

ATTH&G156 brings Bristol and nearby surrounding towns a community-minded destination for arts and crafts exploration, a live venue for music performance and poetry readings and a cozy vintage styled tearoom with offerings of fine loose-leaf teas, coffee and sweet treats.

Additionally, lunches are served consisting of salads, wraps and hearty soups. ATTH&G156 is available to host receptions and business meetings.

Green is active in the Bristol Rising momentum and has advocated for improvements to the building to expand the rear outdoor space. Green hopes to accommodate yoga classes or meetings on the deck overlooking the Pequabuck River.

Dori Green applies a touch up to volunteer photographer and veteran Lynn Keeler Fisher on right.

Dori Green applies a touch up to volunteer photographer and veteran Lynn Keeler Fisher on right.

Ginger Grant’s work consists of jewelry design, fine art photography, painting and knitting arts. Grant’s unique hand made necklace and earring designs and photography are for sale in ATTH&G156.

Lynn Keeler Fisher is active in arts advocacy. Fisher’s photography of Hartford Artspace and Meriden Gallery 153 events touts each organization’s arts activities.

Lynn Keeler Fisher gives in to laughter during her turn at sitting for portrait.

Lynn Keeler Fisher gives in to laughter during her turn at sitting for portrait.

Three busy people recognize giving time nourishes the very creativity that feeds their spirits. Green worked as volunteer Massage Emergence Response Team (MERT), member during the 9/11 crisis through the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) helping first responders cope with fatigue and exhaustion from hours of search and rescue efforts. “As objective a person could be, it stills upsets me remembering how disappointed rescue workers were after realizing they couldn’t get to people in time to save them.”

Grant describes photography as a life passion, “It gives me the chance to feel good giving back.” Choosing veterans to thank is an easy choice because they are the kind of people who put others before themselves.

For Fisher, volunteering for ‘Thank You Photo Shoot’ presented an opportunity to connect with veterans, to practice posing techniques and to have her own portrait taken, “Portrait photography is different than event photography.” Fisher chose to enlist in the Navy and served four years from 1978-1982.

During that time Fisher held Engineman status and worked as a diesel mechanic. “Most friends were just getting out of college when I returned from service. I travelled to Hawaii, Singapore, Somalia and Philippines. I never regretted the choice I made – it provided me with a solid education and great life experience,” said Fisher.

Ginger Grant photographs officers Jodie and Ken Fay who serve in CT Governors Horse Company and work with canine Comfort Dog Maggie of Christ The King LutheranChurch in Newtown, CT.

Ginger Grant photographs veterans Jodi and Ken Fay. Ken works with the CT Governor’s Horse Guard and both work with Comfort Dog Maggie of Christ The King Lutheran Church in Newtown, CT.

Green hopes more people will come to Artist Tree Tea House & Gallery 156 to check out the goings on there. “It’s all about creating opportunities to nourish the good within each of us.”

Lynn Keeler Fisher photographs Naval officer with family. Fisher also is a veteran and sat for photo.

Lynn Keeler Fisher photographs Travis Van Houten, Naval officer HM2, wife Ali and baby daughter Leah. Fisher, is also a veteran.

Business Growth is A Personal Journey

Unique: ‘Being the only one,’ is an enviable characteristic. Don’t we all want to be special? Identifying what it is in life that would make you happy, and being good at that profession, is the biggest challenge we all face.

Being special implies standing out apart from the collective whole of (_____________ ), fill in the blank. Finding your own passion has become a marketable commodity.

Clamoring to be ‘the best’ takes place in every industry, hence, the rise in rankings, a.k.a. reputation. SEO practices are on the rise as a way to get more exposure. Fully established entities from Nabisco and Nasdaq compete just as much as mom and pop operations such as local food trucks in any given ‘hipster’ town. Social media networks have become the de facto new advertising models that help entities big and small, to grab that elusive brass ring called ‘market share.’ A Google search for Nabisco shows their Facebook page ranks higher than their own website:

Screen capture of Google search using keyword, ‘Nabisco.’

What’s a freelance journalist to do to win clients and influence people? A simple web search for business strategies results in a multitude of subject matter experts (SME), that can assist. A SME can be an organization (Poynter, for example for journalism practices) or an individual professional who has monetized their expertise in the form of coaching. Coaches and mentors cover a variety of topics to include: business coach, life coach, health coach, spiritual coach, personal trainer, organization methods, etc. To be clear, a coach works with clients on specific defined goals, whereas a counselor practitioner (mandatory Master degree and/or Mental Health license) works with individuals to explore the origin of problems and develop strategies to overcome emotional hurdles.

The idea of pursuing personal or business growth can be daunting given the amount of choices. Whatever course of action one chooses, be it a formal education or participating in online seminars, the results must point to taking actions otherwise the learning is for naught.

Five strategies that help me reach goals are:

1) Recognizing specific areas to work on initially. Don’t expect any course of action to be the end all in transformation. Set one to three key goals, instead of trying to change the world and chances of meeting goals is favorable. Progress can be made in increments!

2) Shop wisely for which way to go. Any effort whether it’s an online webinar, traditional education or professional membership will have associated costs, so be mindful of what you can afford financially and in terms of time commitments.

3) Be prepared to show up ready to participate in whatever course of action you choose. Achieving goals requires effort and time management, two things that are in short supply.

4) Acknowledge your own work. Dwell in accomplishment to fully appreciate the energy and mindfulness of what it took to achieve goals. It’s important to savor this moment before it passes.

5) Realize meeting goals and personal growth are not the same. It’s entirely possible accomplishing goals such as earning a degree, getting new clients and completing assignments, being promoted or straightening out a messy house, most likely took several steps to accomplish. To then expect total gratification with the entire picture of your life may not be the result, even though the goal was met.

Remember the reasons why you did what you did and where the accomplishment fits in with the entirety of your life. It’s a part, but not the whole. By reflecting on the journey you will recognize what you need to do next, because there will new goals to achieve at every level. Never stop reaching for new plateaus because they are what define personal and business growth.


Grief Defines Mother’s Life

It’s easier to judge than to listen.  A friend called Margaret A., still grieves for her deceased son nineteen years following his death. It’s not a passive grief, quiet in its knowledge of the irrevocable. It’s an active wet grief, quickly turning to a stream of tears, as though dying just occurred.

A mother longs for her son. Her longing is a raw pain to know that his life meant something. Her son’s choices led to paths and people who used drugs to feel alive. Earlier and sweeter memories of her son,  decorate her home in photographs hung on the wall.

There’s never closure when questioning why drug use occurs and overcome those we love. The questioning a parent faces when their child becomes an addict is that of identity: who were their departed loved ones, beneath layers of need and dependencies? Do parents cling to the ‘straight’ persona of their child, or does loss of innocence and responsibility become the source of pain?

If attempts at rehabilitation fail, parents are left with defeat and loss of hope that precedes an actual death, the second and final loss. Anyone who has loved an addict knows this pain.

What is a normal timeline of grief? How does someone grief stricken find a way to join the living? My judgement consists of ambivalence. I feel for my friend. Her son was my first boyfriend, and I’ve thought of him and how different life would’ve been had we stayed together. A brief ‘breakup’ in a high school relationship was all it took to form a wedge. That’s how quickly life takes its turns. When I came back, he had already bonded with someone new, someone who took him places I could not. Heroin wasn’t something I ever wanted to try.

Margaret doing kitchen work.

Margaret lives alone and doesn’t socialize much.

During this same period, my sister Frances shot up daily. I’d watch her shoot up sometimes. How anyone could stick a needle into their veins daily astounded me. I’d witness her nodding off into a blissful state of sedation, night after night. Her world revolved around getting the next fix. Prostitution and theft were her go-to modes of financial acquisition and that too, seemed incredibly scary. Our parents held to ‘tough love’ methods involving long stays in rehabilitation facilities. After many attempts to help were unsuccessful, she overdosed.

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Margaret knows what low is. As her friend I try to encourage her to be present in the life she lives today. I brought a fig spread and cinnamon raison bread to tempt her sweet tooth and encourage conversation. Her ‘talk’ is like a broken record, repeating endless cycles of, “What if?” speculations of how maybe, just maybe, things could’ve been different. I suggested she team up with a solitary neighbor and go to a pig roast. I need to call again to know if she forgot about grieving, if only for one day.

Journey from Abuse to Advocacy

Ten lives have been claimed by intimate partner violence in Connecticut in 2014 according to The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. That statistic is too high for Casey Morley, a survivor who is speaking out to raise domestic violence awareness.

Morley, a Southington resident, is the author of newly published ‘Crawling Out: One Woman’s Journey to an Empowered Life after Breaking a Cycle of Abuse No One Should Endure,’ a personal account of childhood abuse she experienced and her subsequent journey to overcome its effects. The book launch and first signing was held at North Ridge Golf Club in Southington September 16th.

Domestic violence isn’t a popular subject, hence the shock reaction when we learn about it after the fact. Similar to mental illness, where the majority of society doesn’t want to openly address these issues, domestic violence needs to be brought into the conversation more frequently than its namesake ‘awareness’ month of October. When individuals become familiar with how domestic violence manifests, the better prepared they are to protect themselves and those they love when warning signs occur.

Morley spent decades sorting out emotions associated with abuse. Shutting the pain down was an initial reaction that ultimately didn’t work, “If as a child bad things happen to you, the meaning of right and wrong becomes overwhelming confusing.” Early strategies gave way to confronting her pain as she grew into a young woman and behaviors in relationships mirrored negativity.

‘Crawling Out’ offers the reader an insider look at what happens when a victim grows up in a dysfunctional environment and attempts to live with the secret of abuse and its cousin, shame. Morley emphasizes that living in denial allows a bad experience to keep its victim in a state of pain. Denial can rob a person of mental health as well as of physical health. Part of Morley’s recovery was recognizing ailments such as anxiety, digestion issues and what was soon to be diagnosed as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Internalizing pain caused Morley’s body to literally cry out for help. Through seeking medical services Morley’s life began to turn around.

Sept. 16, 2014 - From left to right, Suzan Bibisi, Development Director, Prudence Crandall Center,  and Casey Morley speak out against Domestic Violence during book launch and signing for 'Crawling Out' held at North Ridge Club in Southington, CT.

Sept. 16, 2014 – Left to right, Suzan Bibisi, Development Director, Prudence Crandall Center, and Casey Morley speak about domestic violence during ‘Crawling Out’ book launch and signing.

Morley’s story is but one example of the testament to her strength. As a single mother to 21-year old son and business owner of Casey’s Image Consultants, Morley commits her time to helping others realize their best selves. These roles, that of a protective mother, hair stylist and whole body coach, contribute to a Morley ‘s healthier world view. It is her own catharsis that motivates Morley’s determination to raise awareness for domestic violence so that change in others can begin. Morley is her own best motivator as she campaigns for ending dysfunctional cycles with each conversation she encounters through her business and now through her authorship. ‘Crawling Out’ offers readers resources, but then contacting Morley is also welcome.

Morley actively fundraises in her salon and donates proceeds to Salons Against Domestic Abuse, a program sponsored by the Professional Beauty Association.

Morley is teaming up with Prudence Crandall Center, an organization that helps individuals achieve lives free of domestic violence by providing care, education, advocacy, and support throughout nine towns in Connecticut. Other like-minded organizations Morley aligns with are Bikers Against Child Abuse, and Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury.

Additionally, Morley is in the planning stages of organizing a ‘Walk A Mile In Her Shoes’, (WAMIHS)  event in Southington to raise money for victims. Her steadfast determination will be the driving force behind getting the event on the town calendar, after an initial bumpy start. “It takes a lot of energy to get traction even with good ideas,” Morley said after realizing coordination to coincide WAMIHS with the upcoming Apple Festival required more time.

Being vocal about abuse is necessary to getting the topic into mainstream conversation before talk turns to regrets. It is to that effort Morley attributes the publication of ‘Crawling Out,’ and her continued efforts to be involved in publicizing abuse issues so healing can begin. To know more contact

On left Nancy Hooper, Editor, and Casey Morley share their collaboration with audience.

On left Nancy Hooper, Editor, and Casey Morley share their collaboration with audience.

Casey Morley and Bikers Against Child Abuse join forces to combat domestic violence.

Casey Morley and Bikers Against Abuse join forces to combat domestic violence.


Bare Bones of Home Left Standing

Two abandoned properties on Savage Street in Southington finally met the wrecking ball. All that remains of one structure are the bare essentials – a brick chimney with fireplace intact and an oil tank attached to a solid cement foundation. The houses when they stood, never exhibited a ‘For Sale’ sign, or even for that matter a foreclosure sign. Instead a gradual segue from occupancy to empty occurred over time.

Anatomy of A House

Anatomy of A House

The two homes were side-by-side amongst a well maintained residential neighborhood. Their location was directly across from the Southington Country Club, a public golf course, and adjacent to Mary Our Queen, a Roman Catholic church, both contributors to the beauty of Savage Street which also serves as a popular stretch of pavement for walkers.

How soon will walls return to this forlorn shell? A trip to the accessors office would provide that information. What I like to wonder about is how the properties came to meet their level fate. No factual data will answer that question.

Mary Our Queen

Patience will also provide the transformation that is most likely expected. Brand new houses will replace the empty spots that look out of place. Most likely a hefty price tag will accompany the new construction – not so unusual: pretty price plus scenery equals a win-win for the neighbors. All well and good – but it’s the not knowing who lived there and what happened that I’d like to recall when I walk past the spot where the two houses, now gone, once stood.

Visit earlier post to see these structures:

Photography Is A Natural For Manitoga Campers

If the saying ‘You’re never too old to learn something new‘ is true, then youth should loan itself to learning just as well. That being said, is five years of age too young to learn photography? Perhaps it might’ve been ten years ago when mobile phones hadn’t reached their zenith of ubiquity as seen in 2014.

Smart phone photography has contributed to making photography accessible to all, including children five years of age through eleven. Seeing youngsters snapping away with Iphones at whatever compels them is a common occurrence. With that in mind, I was thrilled with the opportunity to instruct five photo learning activities during Manitoga Summer Design Camp’s ‘Every Picture Tells A Story,’ at Manitoga / The Russel Wright  Design Center in Garrison, New York.

The camper’s ages ranged from 5 to 11. Several of the oldest campers were quite adept with point and shoot style cameras. Smart phones with cameras were just as popular. The control dials and settings quickly become a natural for kids once they get past their initial timidness with the either camera or device. Curiosity beats hesitation every time.

Instruction is important  because without it, youngsters will invariably and randomly photograph everything in sight. Although there aren’t film costs associated with digital devices, shooting without a ‘game plan’ doesn’t accomplish learning anything. The lesson plan consisted of three ideas:

  • The rule of thirds
  • Horizontal vs. vertical orientation
  • How close can you get

From these three ideas other lessons emerged as each group walked the trails and set out to see the environment through the camera lens. Having supplies such as extra batteries and film cards was one such take – away lesson. Another lesson learned was to be aware of the idea of  ‘place.’ It’s easy to forget safety when concentrating on the activity – even adults have been known to lose themselves in the moment of capturing a photo and forgetting there might not be enough room behind their feet, and quite accidentally fall down.

Building on the idea of place, I suggested photographing each other, and many did. It wasn’t portraiture, but several images hint at a document style of photography, (with a few photo bombs thrown in). I don’t discount the serendipitous picture because some of the best images are made that way. Seen below are selected images from five groups. All the campers had a good grasp of the concepts introduced. As they venture forward with better cameras, I suspect visual language will grow along with them.

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Property Valuation: Cause and Effect

I’m a fan of fantasy. Not the sci-fi kind, but rather the DIY home show kind that portray dreams come true. Take Yard Crashers for instance. Matt Blashaw, a landscaping contractor and a very attractive man, approaches and sometimes stalks, shoppers in home improvement stores. He inquires about their purpose and purchases are, and immediately launches his elevator pitch: “Take me home with you, and in two days you will have a totally new back yard!” The space will be transformed and equipped with top of the line water feature, gazebo or theme of their choice in two days, but in programming time, this magic occurs in 30 minutes. What’s not to like?

Another favorite is House Hunters. Wouldn’t buying or selling property be that much more fun if you only had to choose from three properties? There’s never any hiccup Hubbard clauses and buyers always get the house they want. If there are bidding wars, somehow the featured buyers win out every time! That is true fantasy!!

Television is a great tool for communicating the best scenarios. Once you tune out though, it’s back to reality. For property owners there’s nothing more real than a structure next door that has gone awry. When an owner faces hard times and can’t afford to maintain property, or worse than that, pay the mortgage, buildings like people, show their needs quickly.

Buyers look carefully at neighborhoods for signs of economic health for both commercial or home property purchase – that stands to reason. It’s no uncommon though, for any town to have good and ‘bad’ sections, and mostly what defines the bad, are blighted properties. One example of an entire city succumbing to poverty is Detroit. Photographer Kevin Bauman documented abandoned properties in 100 Abandoned Houses. Bauman’s photography takes the subject of economic demise, which is in and of itself is depressing and presents it in portfolio format. Each house pictured represents a record of a former life, when life itself was better. For history buffs, these buildings are roadmaps to architecture that most likely will meet their fate with a wrecking ball.


Real estate markets can be a saving grace for cities. The same television programs that promote fantasy renovations also promote do-it-yourself projects.

Every property needs regular maintenance to function mechanically. Something as simple as power washing the deck can inspire bigger projects and sometimes the renovation bug catches on, turning a homeowner into an investor willing to rehab slightly distressed properties for profit – hence HGTV‘s onslaught of house flipping programs such as Flip or Flop,  Rehab Addict and Income Property.


Historical groups sometimes rally to save  commercial buildings of note that linger too long on the market. That isn’t the case for residential housing.When extended unemployment or a health crisis impacts home ownership the results can mean financial devastation. Loss of income or life aren’t the only reasons properties become distressed. It’s anyone’s guess why owners give up caring for their homes, but certainly limited funds are contributing factors.

Signs of the times in Southington,CT such as these empty homes on Savage St., can be seen by drive-bys. A quick web search on Zillow reveals how many REO (real estate owned by banks) properties there are currently on the Southington, CT market. It takes a special someone with deep pockets, a love of renovation and the luxury of time to rescue bank owned real estate.

When blight finds its way next to where you live or work, it’s a stark reality. The proximity to an eyesore property may influence home values or even the likelihood of commercial real estate.  People generally like to shop and do business where it’s well populated.  One way neighborhoods, towns and cities thrive in any economy is when banks work with owners to modify loans so people can continue to make payments according to their situation. Hopefully the economy improves overall – empty houses and storefronts look lonely without people to care for them.

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The Walking Dead Bloody Up Hartford

A zombie meetup means one thing only: the chance and challenge to outwit the walking dead. Lifeless trolls invaded XFINITY Theatre and set out to infect as many humans they encountered. Thanks to Skybound LLC, those who attended The Walking Dead Escape witnessed bloody and ravenous sloughs of former humans chase and try to infect them as they navigated the zombie obstacle course. Watch video as officials announce the attack has come to Hartford and warn it’s not safe to leave the compound. Survival is anyone’s game.

If you fall into the category of ‘can’t get enough gore’ then this thrill seeking game is right up your alley. Participants played in one of four ways. ‘Survivors’ navigated the 1.5 mile  obstacle course and avoided any surprise zombie ghouls that popped out anywhere along the way. For a survivor to make it the decontamination zone, they must have successfully bypassed any contact with a zombie or run the risk of being infected by a bite that could turn the healthiest human into a flesh eating walking corpse.

The Walking Dead Escape

The Walking Dead Escape

‘Walker’ status signifies the undead zombies. Participants dressed with torn and bloodied (fake) clothing, were made up to look their best zombie selves. ‘Spectator’ status allowed participants to witness the apocalypse as family and friends escape attacks or found themselves with appetite for blood as attack zombies. Finally ‘VIP’ allows loyal Walking Dead fans to run the course twice, first as a Survivor and then a Walker. A Fanfest followed all the activities where zombies and walkers unite for photo opportunities, food, drink and memorabilia sales.

As long as daylight held out the dead were easy to spot. Their wayward trance-like walk looked half drunk and half dead. Blood spattered clothing and vacant stares were tell tale signs that life was gone, replaced by their growling hunger for killing. The first group set out at 6:00 p.m. but later rounds into the evening were most likely scarier without the benefit of light.

The Walking Dead Escape is an interactive obstacle course touring the nation. The event, produced by Skybound EXP, is based on the works of Robert Kirkman, creator of “The Walking Dead” comic book series, the source of inspiration for the popular television show of the same name and which Kirkman is creator and executive producer. Costs: VIP, $150; walker, $95; survivor, $75; and spectator, $20. For tour dates visit:

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