Summit County Coroner’s Office to throw Halloween Zombie Ball fundraiser for survivor support | VailDaily.com

Summit County Coroner’s Office to throw Halloween Zombie Ball fundraiser for survivor support

Deepan Dutta, Summit Daily News
Portraits of zombies who have taken part in the Summit County Coroner's Zombie Walk in support of the Survivor Support Program. This year, the fundraiser will be a party Friday, Oct. 25, at the 10 Mile Music Hall in Frisco. Courtesy Summit County Coroner’s Office
Courtesy Summit County Coroner’s Office
What: Zombie Ball and cemetery tour
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25
Where: 10 Mile Music Hall, 710 Main St.
Cost: Zombie Ball is $20 and cemetery tour is $10 for adults and $5 for children and seniors
Tickets: SummitCountyCO.gov/zombie

FRISCO — Combining fun with the mildly morbid, the Summit County Coroner’s Zombie Ball and cemetery tour fundraiser is as Halloween as it can get.

The fourth annual fundraiser, which benefits the Summit County Coroner’s Office Survivor Support Program, starts with an interactive cemetery tour at the Frisco Historic Park followed by a party with live music and a silent auction Friday, Oct. 25, at 10 Mile Music Hall.

In previous years, the fundraiser was held as a Zombie Walk down Frisco’s Main Street. Coroner Regan Wood said the owners of 10 Mile Music Hall offered their venue this year, with local groups Horizon Line and Beau Thomas Band donating their musicianship to the cause.

The Survivor Support Program was established by the coroner’s office after the Summit Advocates for Victims of Assault board decided in 2015 to focus its resources on supporting victims of violence, sexual assault and stalking, meaning it no longer would provide services to families and friends after a death, Wood said.

Wood, who was involved with Summit Advocates for 12 years, was asked by the Summit Board of County Commissioners whether the coroner’s office could take on those support services for survivors at death scenes.

Spouses, relatives, friends and neighbors can become traumatized after a death, with no frame of reference or guide to help deal with the emotional and practical realities of losing a loved one.

Wood said her program offers on-call support whenever county emergency dispatch requests aid at the scene of a death. Aside from helping survivors cope, the support team also helps free up law enforcement and other emergency service personnel to do their work without the possibility of interference or distraction from survivors on scene.

The support program also assists survivors with handling the logistical issues that arise after a loved one’s death, such as finding lodging for survivors if they do not want to stay at the home where their loved one died or assisting with travel arrangements.  

If the deceased person has a pet without caretakers available, the program arranges for the pet to be taken to a relative or to the animal shelter. In one case, a member of the program personally adopted a cat that was left homeless after its owner passed.

Wood recalled a case just weeks ago when an older couple had visited from out of state. The husband died, and his wife was overwhelmed as she had no support system in Summit County. The Survivor Support Program helped the widow change her flight plans so she could be on the same flight as her husband as his body was transported back home.

In 2018, the program served 412 people who were directly or indirectly affected by the unexpected death of a Summit County resident or visitor.

Even with the very serious and somber nature of the program, the coroner’s office recognizes that Halloween is meant to be a fun day, mostly for kids — and adults who are kids at heart — who dress up and act out roles they don’t get to play the rest of the year.

In accordance with that festive spirit, the Zombie Ball starts off with Nightmare at the Museum and a cemetery tour from 6:30-8:30 p.m. starting at the Frisco Historic Park & Museum. Wood said her staff performs for the tour, acting out the roles of Frisco residents interred at the cemetery. 

The performers will dress in period costumes and guide groups every half hour to the Frisco cemetery, at Summit Boulevard and Marina Road, where they tell the stories of the deceased figures they represent and the lives they lived at the time. The tour is strictly PG affair, so parents shouldn’t worry about their kids being seriously scared.

After the tours end at 8:30, the party starts. The Zombie Ball will take place at 10 Mile Music Hall, 710 Main St., where guests are encouraged to dress in their most creative “superhero zombie” attire. The ball will feature live local music and a silent auction with a boatload of donated items, including a season pass to Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.

Tickets for the cemetery tour and Zombie Ball are $30, or $20 for just the Zombie Ball. Cemetery tour tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and children. To purchase tickets, visit SummitCountyCO.gov/zombie.