By Don Bolding
The Cove Herald
The Copperas Cove High School band hall was looking pretty monstrous Saturday night as the young musicians of the Pride of Cove Band and Guard and their adult Booster Club treated the community to a night of tricks and treats.
Tombstones marking the likes of Freddie Krueger dotted the campus outside the door as ghouls and goblins with spooky nicknames guided visitors through a haunted maze.
Just inside the door of the Haunted Band Hall, wraithlike young feminine figures with eerie names took the hands of visitors and led them into a series of black-curtained chambers with spirits of the dead - where guests really needed a helping hand in some pitch-black passages.
Some unquiet spirits jumped from the walls and others lay on the floor grabbing at feet.
A guide identified each ghost as a former acquaintance and always said, "He (or she) was a really good person in life, but stay away from him now!" - though ear-splitting shrieks drowned out any moaning or growling.
In one room of the haunted house, a pair of gladiators including drum major Patrick McFarland, battled through eternity with plastic swords.
Another drum major, Jerry Bush, woke from his rest as a deceased student to grab at each passer-by.
Those who withstood the trauma could then see a marionette play a piano, hear scary stories or simply chase away the scare with cupcakes, candy and drinks including bottled water.
A big-screen video in one corner gave a respite to the performers and calmed the nerves of any little ones who might get a real case of the willies despite the separation of activities by ages.
Younger children were also treated to face painting and a cake walk. Booster Club members were costumed up as much as the students.
The band and boosters started creating the Halloweenish darkness in late afternoon to scare the wits and the money out of unwary visitors.
"This is the first year we've tried a haunted house in our scholarship fund-raising," Booster Club president Cherise Jones said through ghastly makeup from under a witch's hat.
Admission was $3 a pop. The Haunted Band Hall raised money for the band.
Jones said from all fundraising activities last year the booster club raised $7,000 for scholarships for seniors and for band camps for junior high and high schools.
"The kids really got into this," she said of the band hall. "It's been in the planning stages since September, and we spent all week decorating the hall. We're looking forward to doing it again."
In one of the practice rooms, puppeteer Jessica Dery pulled strings and made mannequin Ariana McOwney play snippets of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and other pieces on a piano.
Storytelling rooms were set up for children in kindergarten through fourth grade and older children. In the junior room, Katrina Tripp regaled visitors with tales of a young man whose father wanted to give him a case of the creeps before he married. The young man keeps getting pushed out of windows and coming through with a yawn. Finally, his new bride succeeds where others have failed by dropping a frog in his pajamas.
The storyteller also had some riddles:
"How does a skeleton study?"
"He bones up."
"How do you know when a ghost is lying?"
"You can see through him."
In the daylight, the Cove Band and Guard is a prize-winning outfit named the grand champion band in the Central Texas marching competition at the first of October. Judges also gave it laurels for best percussion, best color guard and best drum majors.
Contact Don Bolding at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7557.