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Every Halloween, I’m always asked by my friends and cohorts, “What are you going to be this year?” To some, this is a particularly genuine question to ask. For me, the answer is simple…I’m going to be a zombie. Over the past few years, I have been improving on the creepiness and outright disturbance-factor of my interpretation of the typical postapocalyptic, undead flesh-eater. This year, I think I did well.

Anybody who puts any significant amount of effort into a Halloween costume of any kind, should have a great place to go show it off. What better place to go than the locally-renowned “Howl of the Dead” party? This event has been touted as the largest Halloween party west of the Mississippi River. The venue is the Taggart Student Center (TSC) at Utah State University. The Howl, as most refer to it, is sponsored by the Associated Students of Utah State University (ASUSU) and is coordinated in conjunction with Student Services. Proceeds go to benefit university programs.

Just how big is the Howl? The TSC’s maximum legal capacity, according to fire code, is 7,000 people. I was told that 6,800 tickets were sold this year, at prices ranging from $10 to $25. Being the punctual guy that I am, I arrived, ticket-in-hand, when the doors opened, just after 8p.m. This allowed me to get in while the building was still sparsely occupied. This way, I was able to see all of the craziness unfold.

It was clear that a lot of planning went into the entire production. There was a large dance troupe that all looked very much like myself. Apparently, they were inflicted with the same reanimating, flesh-hunger inducing disease that I was…that is, they all looked like zombies. Every 30 minutes or so, the zombies would all convene on or near the stage that faced the massive line of people waiting to get in. Eerie techno music played while the dancers lurched and clawed at the air in unison. Between performances, the ROTC students, all dressed in full army gear, along with a decontamination crew, apprehended and quarantined the meandering undead. Three times, I was mistaken for part of the show and ended up in the arms of four or five army personnel, being hauled off to the quarantine zone. This sort of entertainment went on throughout the night.

In the TSC Ballroom, a very large dance area was set up with a team of DJ’s playing dance music. In the field house, bands and other performers provided even more entertainment. Of all of the parties I’ve been to, including Halloween parties, nothing quite comes close to the Howl. This is something that is definitely unique to Cache Valley. Students and other young people from all over the state were in attendance. The party was scheduled to go until 1 a.m. When I was leaving at 11p.m., there were still at least 1,000 people, in line, waiting to get in. Wow! I’d say I’ll see you there next year, but it might be hard to find me. Just look for the zombies, I’ll be the one gnawing on your arm. Happy haunting!

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