Newnan High hosts party for season premiere of ‘The Walking Dead’
by Bradley Hartsell
On Sunday, the biggest show on cable - AMC's 'The Walking Dead' - returned for the premiere of season 4, and to celebrate, more than 300 fans turned out to watch the show at Newnan High School.
The event was organized by The Walker Stalkers, a podcast dedicated to AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' providing recaps and insight into every episode.
'We were thrilled,' Walker Stalkers co-host James Frazier said of the turnout. 'The neat thing about it is they are fans of the show and our podcast. We have tons of interaction with them. They call into our show every week. So it's great to come together as fans and friends and enjoy the return of the show. It makes it more exciting.'
Frazier and co-host Eric Nordhoff chose Newnan High as a venue for the event and they sold out 250 tickets in less than 48 hours. The Stalkers hosted their season 3 finale at The Alamo last spring, so a return to Newnan, 'in the middle of where everything is filmed,' made sense.
Frazier said Newnan High Principal Chase Puckett is a huge fan of the show and that the school was excited to host the event.
The parking lot of Newnan High was decorated in the style of the show, with camo tents surrounded by trash giving the appearance of a zombie apocalypse. The show actually filmed at Newnan High for the season 2 premiere in 2011.
Several fans were dressed up as zombies or characters from the show, though not as many as Dani Bratholt would have liked.
'[This premiere party] is amazing. I thought more people would be dressed up, though.'
Bratholt had the most elaborate costume, with ripped clothing and fake blood she made at home from food dye, corn syrup and gelatin - and a zombie hanging on her back.
'Fake blood is not the easiest to get, so this is all homemade,' she said. 'It's nasty.'
A woman dressed as Michonne from the show approached Bratholt and they commiserated at being among the few costumed fans at the party, but they shared a laugh about it. It might have looked strange to most fans to see Michonne and a zombie fraternizing.
The premiere party pulled together people from all over. Frazier said people flew in from Detroit and Iowa to attend the party. Closer to Coweta but still making a considerable trek, Casey Florig loves connecting with other fans of the show and traveled from Valdosta to attend the party.
'It's pretty awesome,' Florig said of the event. 'I'm a huge fan of the show. I've done all the tours. I'm a huge fan of all [of 'The Walking Dead' events]. It's just cool.'
Florig is currently filming a documentary about the effects of 'The Walking Dead' on areas of Coweta County, like Senoia and Newnan. For Florig, a prime example of the show's impact is 300 people coming from all over Georgia and even from other states to support the show and to take part in a collective experience.
Fans were rewarded for their support with special appearances from actors Daniel Thomas May, Travis Charpentier, Moses J Moseley and Parker Wierling. Long lines formed of fans wanting to take pictures and get autographs from 'Walking Dead' alum.
The buzz that allowed such a big premiere party to happen at Newnan High was felt all across the country. Season 4 of 'The Walking Dead' premiered with record ratings of 16.1 million viewers, shattering the previous best of 12.4 million.
'I enjoyed the premiere,' Frazier said. 'I think it's great they're making the zombies more of a focus this season. It was wonderful.'