COPPERAS COVE — More than 4,000 ghouls, goblins, princesses and superheroes descended on City Park on Saturday, collecting Halloween goodies from 40 Central Texas vendors at the city’s annual Safe Trick-or-Treat event.

Families were treated to free food, activities and entertainment including costume and pumpkin-carving contests.

Winners chosen from the hundreds of competitors walked away with prizes ranging from toys to gift cards.

The event is the city’s way of offering an alternative to traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating by providing safe candy for kids from trusted vendors, established and well-known businesses in the city, Parks and Recreation Director Joseph Pace said.

“Parents don’t have to worry about their kids going to a house, knocking on the door and maybe getting something tainted,” he said.

Carroll Merrell, a member of the Copperas Cove Unity Committee, said the event helps to preserve morale and unity in the community in a time when people have become fearful of the holiday tradition.

A recent study showed 115 people under age 18 were killed Oct. 31 between 1990 and 2010.

“There’s a lot of paranoia and a lot of worrisome things happening in the world today,” Merrell said. “Something like this gives everyone a breath of relief and they can feel safe and confident that this is a good place to be for their family.”

Newcomer Michelle Brown attended with her daughter exploring what Cove has to offer, she said.

“I think there are a lot of good Christian folks here, which is definitely lacking in the community,” Brown said.

Silvia Rhoads, executive director of the nonprofit Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful, said the organized event also allows the community to “meet and greet” many of the charitable organizations in the area.

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