By Wendy Nugent, Newton Now
An ivory crescent moon shined onto the October landscape, spreading hints of light onto the rural Newton field, beckoning to zombies, werewolves and people wearing creepy doll masks to come out and frighten those brave enough to attend.
At one point, a lone figure wearing a doll mask with golden ringlets stood in the path as trailers of people, ready to defend the world from the zombie apocalypse and get a good Halloween fright made their way along the trail.
It was all taking place at Kansas Zombie Hunters (KZH), 7727 N.E. 36th St., between Newton and Walton — out in the country and some may argue, in the middle of nowhere.
The doll mask-wearing man moved slowly and people weren’t sure if he was a mannequin or real.
He was real alright, moving around the trailer as people boarded, not saying or doing anything, just turning his steady gaze on customers.
Several people attending last Friday night were from Wichita and surrounding towns and they came together to have fun.
Kinsley Morrison said she was there, “To get spooked.”
“I’m excited, and I’m scared,” Mattea Light shared
It was “Halloween fun,” that led Brianna Zerger to the event.
Zerger said it was her first time going to any kind of zombie hunt.
To take part, people choose what time they want to go by going online at kansaszombiehunters.com and clicking on, “Get tickets now.” Then, pick a time. Admission is $22 per person, which includes 100 rounds of glow-in-the-dark paintballs. People are asked to sign waivers before getting on the 30-minute ride.
After everyone’s aboard, a tractor pulls the trailer along a path into a cornfield with paths cut out. At one point, before the shooting starts, the tractor stops and folks are handed eye protection and asked to take the covers off the tip of the guns. When that’s done, Halloween music plays on the trailer, while people shoot at “zombies”, which are either people or mannequins.
Sometimes, the zombies chase the trailer.
Last year marked Kansas Zombie Hunters inaugural season. They decided to continue the business this year.
It is run by five area families that wanted to start a business. Adults and kids, alike take part in the “show,” dressed as zombies or selling things.
“They kind of researched and found this is an activity a lot of people enjoyed,” said Lisa Littlejohn, spokesperson for KZH, who was collecting money for rides and other various purchases, like pumpkins and gourds. “My 9-year-old is a zombie, out there. He loves it.”
Littlejohn said her entire family gets into the action, including her husband, who’s a Newton police officer.
Last year, their attendance was around 500 and this year, they’ve had repeat, as well as new customers.
Littlejohn said they hope to add something new every year. This year, they’ve added a Haunted Walk that takes 15 minutes. There is no shooting during that.
“It’s just a haunted walk through the forest,” Littlejohn said.
To do the Haunted Walk, people pay an additional $3, if they take the zombie ride or $5 for just the walk.
Although people on the ride get 100 paintballs, most people shoot 300. Riders get plenty of opportunity to purchase more rounds, too.
Their opening day this year was the weekend of Sept. 28, and Littlejohn said their ending weekend will be the first weekend in November. They decided to go into November because the weather has interfered with their hours.
“Everything out here is mud and water,” Littlejohn said.
One night, they had a Law Enforcement Night with at least some of the proceeds going to slain Wichita deputy Kunze’s family. They have another special night coming up to raise money for Catelyn Kaiser of McPherson, who has a rare blood disorder. Another night will benefit St. Mary School in Newton and the Boy Scouts, associated with that school.
“That night, our principal comes out and is a zombie,” Littlejohn said, adding that will be on Oct. 26.
In addition to having special nights, Littlejohn said KZH can have office and birthday parties, also. They also have Zombie Busters during the day, which is booked by appointment for any age. People and zombies walk around.
“We don’t do that at the nighttime,” Littlejohn said.
Also, during the day, people can ride in a trailer and shoot at targets along the way, since there won’t be any zombies out.
Their hours are 7 p.m.-midnight on Fridays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.-midnight on Saturdays and noon-5 p.m., Sundays.
Any cancellations will be listed on their Facebook page.
Also, at the location is Taco Mike’s, selling a variety of refreshments and food.
With plenty of good Halloween scares, KZH is building a strong following.
“We’re building up to it,” Littlejohn said. “We’re getting busier and busier. It’ll get busier and busier the next few weeks.”