City holds 2nd Fall-o-Ween Festival
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Princesses, witches and superheroes descended upon Copperas Cove City Park in search of candy and fun at the Parks and Recreation Department’s 2nd Annual Fall-o-Ween Festival held Saturday.
The festival included the trick-or-treat aisle, where various businesses, churches, clubs and organizations passed out free candy until they ran out. The 5 Hills Jeep Club was represented by 21 Jeeps decorated in various Halloween themes, including Brian and Cindy Rader’s Jeep, which was decorated in a zombie theme, complete with animated figures that created a spooky and gory scene.
Cindy Rader said that they all enjoy coming out and handing out candy and showing off their decorated Jeeps.
Last year, she said she gave out over 1,200 pieces of candy, one per child, and ran out at the end of the evening. This year, they ran out earlier. She said she thought this event should have been closer to Halloween but had no other complaints.
“I think we do a good job decorating and stuff like that,” Rader said. “I think it’s good for the community to see that we’re all joining together even though we’re not a business or anything.”
Katryn O’Connor and Patty Melfi, also with the 5 Hills Jeep Club, were across the street and dressed as characters from The Purge: Election Year. Katryn said this was her first year at the Fall-o-Ween Festival passing out candy and that she thought it was a fun event.
Melfi added that she thought it was better for the kids than walking around their neighborhoods.
Towards the end of the trick-or-treat aisle, close to the Fester House Stage, were riders from Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) and the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association. The BACA riders let kids climb on their motorcycles and take pictures, including Julie Miller, who goes by Skullita and was there with her Skullita Mobile, a Slingshot reverse trike. She said this was the first time for her but that BACA had been out in previous years passing out candy. She said she really loved the event and how people come out from neighboring communities to participate and bring happiness and candy to the kids.
Other fun activities included a hay maze, a super slide, pony rides, a petting zoo, arts and crafts vendors, pumpkin bowling, pumpkin patches and face painting. Bounce houses and obstacle courses were located on Field 3. The Haunted Hay Ride started at Field 1 and went around the park.
There was a free costume contest at the Fester House Stage, with registration opening at 5 p.m. and the contest starting at 6 p.m. Live music was provided in the parking lot near the front entrance to the park, where several food trucks were also located. Temple area musician Lilly Milford opened for Belton-area musician Will Janke. Classic fair food such as funnel cake and snow-cones and lemonade were provided by Snofellas, while Little J Tacos and Mt Hiram Lodge provided other options for hungry festival-goers.
The festival was originally a safe trick-or-treating event held downtown then at the City Park and then Ogletree Gap before it was expanded into a festival last year. Parking was $5 per car, but dozens of cars lined Ave B outside the park towards the end of evening. The different activities available cost one or two tickets which were.50 cents each.
Jodi Swanner was there with her sons Caeden, 11, and Grayson, 5, and they headed to the various activities before hitting up the candy aisle. She said she thought the pricing was very reasonable, as she spent $12 for more than three hours of family fun. She said she also appreciated that the atmosphere of the festival was family friendly and not “over-the-top Halloweenish.”
Swanner said she heard complaints about the lines from her own children as well as others waiting in lines and added that she thought more activities might dispel those in future.
“I stopped taking my boys to the downtown trick or treat for several years because I didn't see fun in standing in line for candy like a herd of cattle,” Swanner said. They will still go trick or treating on the evening of Halloween, she added.
Robert Springmann and his wife Jenny were at the festival with their 2-½- year-old son, Evan. Springmann was dressed as a TIE pilot of the red stripe 181st TIE Interceptor Squadron, from the Star Wars universe. He is a member of the Central Texas Squad of the Star Garrison of the 501st Legion, which is an organization of people who dress in movie-accurate costumes of Star Wars universe villains and go to various charity fundraisers and into children’s hospitals, as “bad guys doing good,” Springmann said. He added that he couldn’t go 10 feet without being stopped by fellow festival-goers asking for pictures, but he didn’t mind.
They attended the Fall-o-Ween festival last year, but Springmann said he thought it was getting better each year, he said.
“It’s kind of a conveyor belt. It’s not like when we were kids and we’d run all over Hell and Creation without adults and you know, the candy bars were that big,” Springmann said. “But you know, today I feel better with my little one being in an environment like this, you know. Go down, they get to still trick or treat, see other people in costumes and have a good time.”