Zombies are the life of the party However, opposition group not comfortable with beer in the streets

By on October 24, 2013

By:

PATRICK BURNS Record Express Staff

, Staff Writer



Photo by Patrick Burnsâ?©Zombie mechanic guy and Zombie Amish guy enjoy a cold brew during the downtown celebration of Dawn of the Lititz Dead.

Do zombies move more quickly after killing a few cold ones?

Well, that wasn’t the case when exhausted zombies invaded downtown Lititz Saturday during the inaugural Monster Bash party – an outdoor street fair, fundraiser that featured craft beer sales on a half-block section of East Main Street.

Lititz officials and sponsors Saturday hailed the success of the 5K obstacle run "Dawn of Lititz Dead" event in which 125 zombies terrorized, obstructed and chased almost 700 runners.

Fatigued zombies geared in ghoulish garb and monster makeup wound down at the post-party imbibing 16-ounce brews in plastic cups shared with their former "prey" in the afternoon along Main Street, from Cedar to Broad.

Kelly Withum, of Venture Lititz, said the event, which raised $30,000 for Lititz Spring Park also helped elevate the town’s image as a trendy and hip destination.

She said events like this are vital to the dynamic demographic that will support the many Lititz boutique shops, quaint restaurants and unique bars.

"Events like this attract and retain our younger skilled work force and that is very important for the continued success of the Lititz area," Withum said.

Venture Lititz, a non-profit economic development group established to promote the downtown area, worked closely with event sponsor Rock Lititz – the entertainment industry triumvirate of Clair Global, Tait and Atomic Design – after Lititz Borough Council gave the OK to seek a special permit to sell beer and wine in the street.

Venture Lititz procured the permit and purchased liability and liquor-liability insurance for the event, which costs about $1,000 per day, Withum said.

Runners Kerry Rapp, of Adamstown, and Bridgett Bamberger, of Lancaster, said the event was a "home run" for Lititz. Rapp said it should grow to attract more runners and new visitors if it continues on an annual basis.

"My parents have been planning to come to Lititz forever, but never have until today," Rapp said. "They love it. The people participating are having a great time. Look at the crowds packed into the Lititz shops."

Lisa Douglas, of Lititz, strolled along Main Street Saturday while sipping a foamy, amber beverage from a clear plastic cup. She said events like Dawn of Lititz Dead builds community pride.

"Lititz is a great little town, that we like to share," Douglas said. "I think it’s just great to be able to walk the streets and drink your beverage and enjoy the entertainment."

Clearly the star entertainers were the zombies who "livened" up the run and after-party.

The army of the undead zombies ranged from elementary school kids to middle-aged adults who grabbed for flags attached to runners while pacing through several mini-obstacle courses along the 5K.

The event drew an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people and attracted about 2,100 views on the Lititz Record Express and Ephrata Review’s Facebook pages that featured photos from the day.

Still, the event didn’t thrill everybody.

The Lititz Record Express received a letter Monday titled "Not Lititz," signed by 55 people who oppose any beer or alcohol sales in the streets at any time.

Jack Stauffer, one of several parishioners at Trinity Evangelical Congregational Church who signed the letter, said any event that includes alcohol consumption should not take place on borough streets or in parks.

"This is the kind of thing that starts small and grows out of control," he warned.

The event marked only the second time Lititz has used a Special Occasion Permit from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board that allowed the outside sales and consumption of beer from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Lititz’s only other use of the special permit was for the Rock Lititz bike race in April.

Karen Harnley, a member of Venture Lititz and treasurer of the Lititz Spring Park Board, said she found herself at odds last week with promoters when she signed the protest letter.

Harnley, who teaches an adult Sunday school class at Trinity E.C., said opposition to the event bubbled after a class discussion denounced the promotion of street beer sales that counter "Lititz traditions through the decades."

"The park board was told this event was a fundraiser and was a family-oriented event; that it was going to be great for the family," Harnley said Monday. "Having beer sort of takes it away from a family atmosphere."

Karen Weibel, borough council president, disagrees.

"This was billed as a family-friendly event, and if you look at all of the families here today I think you can see that is exactly what it was," Weibel said Saturday.

Weibel said the event sparked no alcohol-related complaints or police incidents.

"Police had to instruct a few people back who innocently wandered outside the edge of event area (with a beer) looking to see the zombie roller derby team trying to catch runners," Weibel said.

Lititz Borough Council decided to move forward with the beer sales after hearing objections from Wayne Anthony at the Sept. 24 council meeting.

The brief "Not Lititz" letter (published in this week’s commentary section, A5) noted that Anthony’s objection had motivated the group to take a stand.

Weibel said officials will meet to do a "postmortem" study of the planning and execution of Dawn of the Lititz Dead, which she hopes will become an annual fall event.

"Dawn of the Lititz Dead is the perfect precursor to the Lititz Halloween Parade," she added.

That annual tradition, sponsored by the Lititz Lions Club, takes place in downtown Lititz next Monday, Oct. 28.

More SPECIAL PERMIT, page A4