Despite the popular zombies, ghouls and blood of this year’s Halloween Carnival, families enjoyed a sense of real security inside the horror that was the Killeen Special Events Center Wednesday night.

Michelle Clarke, a certified nurse’s aid in Killeen, rushed to find costumes for her four young children, ages 11, 8, 5 and 1. Grandma helped, she said.

Settling at the last minute on her nurse’s uniform (straight from work), Clarke wrapped an ace bandage around her son, Dwane May, 5, giving him the classic mummy look with an added gory touch: artificial intestines with a built-in mechanism to make him bleed.

“We found it at Walmart on the way,” Clarke said. “Really a last-minute thing.”

Together, the nurse standing with her 3-foot-tall accident victim above her shoulders, the mother and son formed a sort of tandem costume on the dance floor at the Killeen Special Events Center.

Speaking over the sounds of “Gangnam Style,” the pop hit from the South Korean artist PSY, Clarke said she was very happy to come to the carnival.

“It’s amazing,” Clarke said. “They get to do a thousand things in one location and I feel safe. The main thing is I don’t have them out on the street.”

Dead and undead alike enjoyed the games and dancing at the Killeen Carnival. Many went home with prizes, and all went home with candy.

The most popular attraction was the Wicked City Haunted House, designed and administered by the Wicked City Derby Damez, a local roller derby team.

“I was screaming and screaming the whole time,” 11-year-old Jenny Alberti said after coming out of the haunted house for the first time. “I’m very emotional, so I was very scared.”

The Derby Damez practice at the Killeen Special Events Center and this was one of their ways of giving back to the city for letting them use the space, coach Jera Bullock said.

The team of about 40 women, ages 18 to 49, dressed as murder victims and ghosts, surprised walkers as they turned through the dark strobe-lit corners of the makeshift plywood house.

“We had a ball,” Bullock said. “Killeen has always had a name as the wicked city and so we enjoyed doing this to help out.”

More and more cities in the U.S. are providing carnivals as a safe alternative to trick-or-treating.

In Killeen, the event has grown each year with more games and families attending, event organizer Sherry Wolfe said. “We tweak it a little each year,” she said. “There’s always more candy.”

Harker Heights and Copperas Cove also had safe Halloween carnivals.

Contact Brandon Janes at or (254) 501-7552

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