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HallowEast offers art, murder and zombies

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If zombies and murder mysteries tickle your fancy, HallowEast is your kind of event.

The top fundraiser for East End Main Street, HallowEast kicks off Wednesday evening when ArtMares, the horror-themed art show, starts its three-day run at Contemporary Galleries.

The Murder Mystery Party featuring the No Pants Players, a local improvisational troupe, takes top billing Thursday. And on Saturday you can watch the Zombie Walk through the East End, culminating in a street party called the HallowEast Costume Crawl at the corner of Elizabeth and Washington streets. (See complete schedule at halloweast.com.)

"This is our fourth year," said Ric Cavender, executive director of East End Main Street. "Back in early 2009, January, our advisory board got together. It had always been our plan to create a signature fundraising event. We already had the East End Yard Sale and the East End Garden Showcase, but they weren't really fundraising events.

"We were trying to figure out how to bring new people to the East End -- a signature event, something special. We thought, if there's any neighborhood in the city that celebrates Halloween, it's the East End.

"The purpose of HallowEast is two-fold: Bring more people to the district, provide a signature event to Charleston itself. But the main purpose is strengthen businesses. It's held at multiple sites through the East End. It's important to showcase as many businesses as possible."

Showcasing begins from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday on the third floor of Contemporary Galleries, where 25 to 30 mostly local artists will hang ghoulish paintings, scary photos and other weird pieces of imagery. You might not want to hang this stuff in your bedroom unless you're a good sleeper, but you can rest assured that 50 percent of all sales benefit East End Main Street programs.

ArtMares continues at 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, while on Friday you can enjoy free beer, wine, hors d'oeuvres and live music with your art from 6 to 10 p.m.

More than 90 people have already snapped up tickets to the Main Street Murder Mystery Party, which moves this year to the Charleston Woman's Club, 1600 Virginia St. E. at 6 p.m. Thursday. Audience members can enjoy adult beverages and food from Bluegrass Kitchen while trying to solve the murder. Top detectives have a chance to win prizes in a drawing.

Tickets ($25 or $10 for age 13 and under) are available at Moxxee Coffee or by calling 304-767-9800.

Would-be zombies can meet at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot behind Moxxee Coffee, where there'll be joined by hearses and zombie roller girls for the trek through the East End, mostly along Quarrier Street.

"Last year we had 350 to 400 zombies, and a ton of people in the street watching," Cavender said. "What's cool this year is it goes right through the neighborhood."

Immediately afterward is the Costume Crawl, which Cavender called "a spin on the Costume Ball we had before."

"Tickets are only $15 and you get access to food and drink specials at all six venues, and you get a really cool collectible plastic illuminated cup. You press a button on the bottom and it lights up."

The Bluegrass Kitchen, the Empty Glass, Little India, Frutcake, the Red Carpet Lounge and Tricky Fish all offer specials during the party, which features live music and DJs.

There's a also a costume contest, called Exercise Your Right, where people can vote by text message among five male and five female contestants. "They'll be wearing a 'vote for me' button with the text number," Cavender said. Winners will get $500 in cash or a $500 gas card.

For the first time this year, HallowEast is teaming up with FestivALL as part of that organization's first ever FestivALL Fall. As announced by its director Larry Groce last month, FestivALL Fall combines a handful of traditional FestivALL events -- an art fair, Taste-of-All Charleston, evening concerts -- with existing events like HallowEast and the final weekend of the Light Opera Guild's "Hello, Dolly."

"We were approached in late July, early August, to be part of their event," Cavender said. "We had all our events already set, although we hadn't publicized them yet. They acknowledged HallowEast was a mainstay at the end of October for the last three years.

"It's a cross-promotional effort. In the FestivALL Fall brochure, all the HallowEast events are specifically marked. When two organizations get together, it helps the city. It creates a dynamic all over town."

Reach Jim Balow at balow@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.


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