People in downtown Durham Friday evening should prepare for an unfamiliar sight.
The Durham City-County Planning Department will put on the first-ever Durham Monster Dash Friday. It will consist of both one- and three-mile costumed races through the streets of Durham. The Durham Police Department, WXDU 88.7 FM and Road ID—an identification tag manufacturer—are sponsoring the event. The event, part of city’s Culture of Service Initiative, will benefit four organizations—KidZNotes, the Scrap Exchange, Keep Durham Beautiful and Girls Rock NC.
The first race begins at 5:30 p.m. and the event runs until 8 p.m. Participants will dress up in Halloween costumes, and the event will include food trucks and music. Although all Durham City-County departments are encouraged to put on events, this is the planning department’s first.
“We thought, hey, we all really like running, and we all really like Halloween, and those that don’t like running like Halloween,” said Tom Dawson, a member of the city-county planning department who took a large role in planning the event. “Why don’t we combine the two ideas and have a Halloween dash?”
Two non-profits receiving the proceeds engage in music education. KidZNotes provides Durham elementary school students, and Girls Rock NC offers summer camps and after-school programs to immerse girls ages seven to 16 in rock music as a way to socially empower them.
The remaining two focus on local environmental stewardship. Keep Durham Beautiful holds cleanups and beautification projects in different parts of the city. The Scrap Exchange is Durham’s reuse center that collects materials from residents and businesses and redistributes them.
The event has already raised more than $500 with early registers, Dawson said. The race costs $10 online, and $15 at the event. Participants can also spend $5 to purchase tails, which will signal for monsters—a combination of members of the planning department and other organizations sponsoring and benefiting from the event—to chase them throughout the course. Dawson compared the tail-monster chase to flag football.
“It’s going to be funny to have people running and trying to navigate our course while in some ridiculous costume,” Dawson said. “We’ve also chosen the streets of downtown Durham because it highlights the interesting architecture.”
Dawson noted that the planning department is not closing roads for the dash. It hopes to work with existing traffic patterns. He also said the race is not timed, but more for “style.” Awards such as “nerdiest costume” are being given out after the last group finishes. The event will end with a rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” put on by Girls Rock NC. After they finish, WDXU 88.7 FM, Duke’s student-run radio station, will host an after-party at The Pinhook on West Main Street in Durham.
WXDU General Manager Jake Cunnane, a junior, said the station has been promoting the event heavily. The station has aired public service announcements about the dash and an interview with an organizer from the planning department.
“It’s just kind of a natural fit for us because it’s providing a bridge between Duke and the Durham community,” Cunnane said. “They were also looking for a DJ and a couple of other things we could provide.”
The station also puts out PSAs for some of the organizations benefiting from the event, Cunnane said.
The Scrap Exchange is renting out props, making tails and, as Dawson requested, participating as “evil robot monsters,” Jessica Moore, outreach events and community engagement coordinator for the organization, wrote in an email Wednesday.
“When [Dawson] told us about the idea, particularly that he wanted us to help with the Evil Robot Zone, the Scrap Exchange staff was excited to take on the creative challenge as well as be a part of a unique fundraiser supporting local groups that do great work,” Moore said.
The event will promote community engagement, even if people do not actively participate in the dash, Dawson noted.
“It’s our city,” he said. “We encourage people to come be spectators. If the dash isn’t for everybody, it’s always good to come down and see the weird stuff going on and try some of the local restaurants.”
Dawson said he will participate in the event and has already planned his costume. “I’m going to be Franken-bull so I’ll have this really hideous ugly track suit,” he said. “And a Frankenstein bull-head.”