The Van Dine family gets a scare while participating in the Zombie Walk at the Lake Hopatcong Elks lodge.

Zombies help raise money for special needs children

MOUNT ARLINGTON – Just under 60 zombies participated in Saturday’s first annual Zombie Crawl, a fundraiser sponsored by the Lake Hopatcong Elks Lodge #782, but the low turnout didn’t seem to matter to any of the lodge members sitting at the registration desk.

“We have to start somewhere,” said a confident Rick Gathen, lodge secretary. Gathen went on to reference the organizations other public fundraiser, Leap in the Lake.

“Just like the Leap, we started slow and believed it would grow,” smiled Gathen. The 2014 Leap, which takes place every February at Hopatcong State Park, raised close to $75,000 in only its fifth year.

According to Gathen, pre-crawl donations totaled close to $2,200, making the event a success despite the small number of participants on event day, he said. All of the promotion for the event was done through social media he said. A total of $3,000 was raised with all proceeds from the event benefiting area special needs children and youth charities.

For new lodge members Edward and Linda Dehm from Hopatcong, participating in the Zombie Crawl, a half-mile walk on a path in the woods located behind the Elks building on Howard Boulevard, was just another way for them to get involved. “We like helping people and doing things with other people,” said Linda.

One of the main attractions on the path was Mount Arlington resident Eric Coppola, dressed as a clown-zombie, terrifying anyone who ventured into the woods, including three members of the Van Dine family who were seen running out of the woods while being chased by the scary clown.

The plan for next year, said Gathen, is to include competing teams and to host a “Zombie Prom” as a way to boost participation.

Lodge members are sure that word of mouth will help boost attendance at next year’s event, each echoing Gathen’s words, “it will grow.”

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