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Pumpkin-Filled, Zombie Run Quest in Greenbelt Forests

A pumpkin walk, zombie race and a potential goatman-sighting are in store this Saturday in Greenbelt, MD.

The Greenbelt forest preserve will be laced with glowing orange pumpkins on Saturday — and Zombies.

This year, the walking dead will line the woodlands as a new addition to the annual Pumpkin Festival. And later in the day, there will be a children's pumpkin walk.

A friend of a friend of a ghoul has also warned that he's seen signs indicating The legendary Goatman will attend, according to Paul Downs, president of the Committee to Save the Green Belt, which hosts the festival. The Goatman regularly heads Greenbelt's way this time of year—some owls have already announced his presence, according to the ghoul, Downs reports.

The festival runs from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and it's based at the Northway forest preserve, which is down the tree-lined Northway extension, past where Northway meets with Ridge Road.

It all began in 1988 as an effort to protect the city's woodlands from developers, according to Downs. The idea was to connect residents with the city's forests. Downs, also a founding member of the Committee to Save the Green Belt, said he thought if residents experienced the woods, they would be invested in its survival. Thus, the Carving Party and Pumpkin Walk were born.

As time passed, its activities have grown, this year with the zombie run addition. Runners in the 11 a.m. 5K race will navigate zombies roaming about the trees. But maybe the fright may give them extra speed.

"Runners run through the forest who will be given an adrenaline rush by the zombies," said Downs.

Event organizers plan to keep the run and the traditional children's walk separate, according to Allison Smith Bolton, Pumpkin Festival organizer.

In addition to the walkers, this year's Pumpkin Festival has other new twists, such as a pumpkin-carving contest with a prize. The winning pumpkin carver will get a fall-themed gift basket that Bolton states is brimming with goodies.

It's also more community oriented said Downs, who explained that participants will bring their own pumpkins and carving instruments. Downs advises adults to provide supervision for children. Participants can also bring a pre-carved pumpkin from home. Those who are feeling generous can bring a pumpkin or two to share. Fest-goers will also get to place their pumpkins in the woods themselves this year. 

Pumpkin Festival Schedule

10:30 a.m.: Zombie race registration

11 a.m.: Zombie race  

Noon - 5 p.m.: Pumpkin carving party

5 p.m.: Volunteers light pumpkins

6 p.m.: Pumpkin walk officially begins

9 p.m.: Pumpkin walk closes

Those interested in being zombies or running in the 5K can email Bolton at PumpkinWalk@gmail.com and designate whether they are participating as zombies or runners. Bolton asks visitors to bring good walking shoes and flashlights. She says the trail can be treacherous during and after rain. For more info, visit The Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival Facebook Page . Also, stay tuned to Patch for a story on the 15-year battle to save the woodlands that birthed the annual festival.

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