Once upon a time, Zombie Claus and Rudolph the Bloody-Nosed Reindeer visited the Squirrel Cage Jail in Council Bluffs to scare the jolly out of visitors while raising money to help replace the jail’s damaged roof.
Mrs. Claus didn’t like how Santa was eyeing his elves so she ripped out his eyes, or so the story goes, according to members of the Omaha Chapter of the Zombie Research Society.
Mikey Taylor – global leader and Omaha chapter president – said ZRS tries its best to give back to the community as some of their activities can leave people scratching their head.
“If we’re going to run around studying zombies and trying to prevent an apocalypse, we decided to give back to society so people don’t think we’re crazy,” Taylor said.
The group has helped several organizations in the Council Bluffs and Omaha metro area, which include the American Red Cross, Siena-Francis House, Youth Emergency Services and Lydia House.
Participants paid $5 on Saturday to tour the Squirrel Cage Jail and have a picture taken with Zombie Claus. The funds benefited the historical building’s roof, which was damaged by a hailstorm in August 2011.
Patrick Howell, 46, of Omaha played the role of Zombie Claus whose beard was stained with a dark red blood.
While Howell said he doesn’t consider Christmas as an exciting holiday for himself, he’s still able to bring some holiday fright and cheer to others, which is enough to bring a smile to his face.
“It’s the complete opposite of your clean-cut Santa Claus,” he said.
For Irene Schlautman of Council Bluffs, seeing Zombie Claus meant something new for her 92nd birthday.
“I figured she’d done everything else in her lifetime except see Zombie Claus,” said daughter-in-law Candee Schlautman, 56, of Council Bluffs.
Irene Schlautman agreed the encounter was certainly a different spin of the big man in red.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” she said. “Something you’ve never tried before, you have to try it.”