With enough ingredients to fill nearly 500 bags with the handmade slime for Fright Night Downtown on Saturday, Kirsten Pelfrey, Science Central’s outreach manager, says the gooey, clear zombie snot – scientifically known as a plastic-like polymer – continues to be in demand to the delight of costumed children and the chagrin of parents who have carpets, couches and walls to worry about.
Often, however, Pelfrey says the older crowd can be won over.
“Being an adult, making slime is actually one of my favorite activities. It‘s just fun to squeeze. It’s like a stress reliever,” she says, laughing. “Under any circumstance, slime is always fun. If you’re making slime, you’re going to have fun.”
The sixth annual Fright Night offers a full day of activities for families and participating zombies. The event marks a collaboration among the Downtown Improvement District and popular downtown haunts, including Allen County Public Library, Parkview Field and Grand Wayne Center.
The Zombie Walk draws an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people to downtown, and the DID will be busy generating even more participants with its “Zombie Machine.” Science Central will be helping families make their own batch of zombie snot at Grand Wayne Center and main library downtown.
“We get exposed to so many people, and numbers who turn out are always good. It’s a chance to get out into the community and meet people,” Pelfrey says.
Anita Homco, who is in her first year as DID’s event and marketing coordinator, says it was important to continue the success of the event while adding a few new touches to the schedule.
New to this year’s lineup will be more adult-centric events like the Kroozin Calendar’s Car Show Spooktacular and a Fall Festival at Barr Street Market, featuring produce, plants and homemade crafts.
The African/African-American Museum will be transformed into a haunted house that explores African and African-American ghost stories and local figures buried at Jordan’s Crossing in Lindenwood Cemetery.
As a young entrepreneur who has lived downtown, Homco – who founded Cupcakes and Company in 2010 – says that she wanted to offer events this year that engages her generation in the downtown area.
“I’ve lived downtown for 10 years, and I come to Fright Night every year,” says Homco, 29. “So for me I wanted to get a wide range of activities that are adult-friendly. I love the (Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory) Pumpkin Zone and ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show,’ but I know for me I would have liked something later that evening to do. ‘Rocky Horror’ used to be the last event, and that ended at 11 (p.m.).”
Homco says that late-night events offer a chance for parents to take children home after a day of family activities and return for events suited for them.
Returning this year for teenagers and adults, the Fort Wayne Dance Collective will give their annual Fright Night performance titled “Into the Dark(ness)”; Cinema Center will have its Braineaters’ Ball for the family and a late-evening screening of local horror film “Phantom of Woods”; and the Botanical Conservatory will once again screen the “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
To end the evening, A Better Fort Organization will host their second annual Zombie Prom for the 21-and-older crowd at the Thirsty Camel.
“I lived in the West Central neighborhood and I’ve watched it really develop,” Homco says. “My age group is probably the most engaged by the downtown area, and these will be the people who will continue its development.”
Homco says Fright Night continues to be one of the organization’s most successful events, and the night will continue to offer a wide range of events for all ages such as the non-frightening “Ghostly Gala” and the downright spooky overnight ghost hunt at Embassy Theatre.
She says she is excited to make this year as successful, and as slimy, as the years before.
“I think Fright Night has become a momentum builder. It brings people downtown and gives them access to places that wouldn’t usually be accessible to them, and there’s something for everybody,” she says.
“People love the tradition that goes with Fright Night. I hope they love it again this year and look forward to next year.”