By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS - The city is observing trick-or-treating from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday instead of on Halloween, in part so its Halloween carnival can provide a safe alternative for the holiday activity.
"We have the Halloween Hoopla on Saturday, so we just made trick-or-treating on Saturday at the same time, and we just thought it would be better for the kids," Harker Heights Police Department Lt. Loretta Fox said.
Halloween Hoopla has been the city's safe alternative for children since 2006, and before that it was trick-or-treating in the park, said Nichole Broemer, Parks and Recreation events coordinator.
The event allows children, parents and even pets to venture out to Carl Levin Park for several games, other activities, and of course, for candy, Broemer said.
"It is a fun, safe way to have fun on Halloween," Fox said. "Door-to-door is OK, as long as the kids are escorted."
The city also thought the change from Sunday to Saturday would be better for school-age children, so they can stay out later, Fox said.
"I think it will give the children a chance to trick-or-treat on Saturday, and then if they are out, then they will have no problem with school the next morning," Assistant City Manager Patty Brunson said.
Residents were made aware of the trick-or-treating switch with letters being sent home with school-age children and through advertising, Fox said.
The police department won't stop anyone from going door-to-door on Sunday, but residents and their children might be disappointed if a lot of their neighbors participated on Saturday and don't have candy on Sunday, Fox said.
The city has changed the date of observing trick-or-treating to various days in the past, and that has never "created a problem in the past," Brunson said.
Fun at the Hoopla
Halloween Hoopla activities include inflatable bounce houses, inflatable pony races, carnival games and an obstacle course.
A favorite among younger children is the Ghost Hunt, which runs every 45 minutes, Broemer said. It is similar to an Easter egg hunt, with lollipops dressed as ghosts. It is for kids ages 2 to 5.
The library staff will paint faces and operate a fishing game for children. The fire department will have a fire truck and an ambulance on display.
Nine city groups will also participate in this year's Hoopla, Broemer said.
ERA Colonial Real Estate will provide free pumpkins and give families a chance to take pictures among hay bales.
Bikers Against Child Abuse will pass out candy to children. Central Texas Orthodontics will pass out sugar-free candy and other goodies.
The Halloween Hoopla attracted between 800 and 1,000 people last year.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7554. Follow him on Twitter at KDHheights.