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Halloween church event draws 13,000

Posted: October 27, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 27, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Members of the American Jousting Alliance give a demonstration on horseback as dozens look on at the Halloween at the Castle event presented by Real Life Church in Valencia on Saturday.

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Nearly 13,000 people turned out for Real Life Church’s third Halloween extravaganza Saturday, which offered everything from knights jousting on horseback to acrobats performing gravity-defying performances, all with a Medieval theme.

The smell of sweet kettle corn wafted through the air as thousands of families gathered at the Valencia church campus for “Halloween at the Castle.” What started as a small “trunk or treat” event for church members has grown exponentially over the last three years to the largest Halloween production in the valley.

All performances and decorations were designed to offer visitors a medieval feel. Organizers described it as “Real Life Church meets Medieval Times.”

The church gathered hundreds of pounds of candy to give away, planned for months and enlisted the help of more than 300 volunteers to put together the massive event, which was free to the community. Two off-site parking areas were set up with large buses to shuttle attendees.

“The parking was kind of a nightmare last year,” said Karen Rayner, who attends Real Life’s Halloween celebrations every year and parked at the off-site Westfield Valencia Town Center mall lot. “This year there were no traffic issues, and the parking was awesome.”

Nearly 100 different vehicles were parked and decorated in the church lot for the “trunk or treat” portion of the event. Pirate ships, disco-themed spaces and a large towering castle structure with a bridge built from wooden pallets could be seen from across the parking lot.

“I wanted something that people could see from everywhere in the lot,” said castle builder Tim Whidden.
One feature was “Knight Training,” an interactive family event during which young children could be “knighted” and learn special sword-fighting moves in a live audience setting.

Heather Henry and Brent Kemp, both church members, attended the Halloween celebration for the first time this year. Henry brought her daughter and niece for the experience.

“The church just brings the community together in a real special way,” said Kemp.

“Everything they put on from church services to Halloween to Christmas is just fantastic,” said Henry. “They really care about the community.’

Vendors, including Salt Creek Grille, Marston’s Restaurant and Oggi’s Pizza were on site to offer full dinners. Cupcakes, cotton candy, shaved ice and slices of pie were also available to purchase.

“Sometimes Halloween can be kind of scary, especially with the little ones,” said Jacquelyn Traurig. “But here, it’s a family, church environment; it’s safe, and there are a lot of other little kids.”

Traurig attended the event last year with her 2-year-old daughter. They had such a great experience she invited her friends this year, Gena Altamirano and her daughter.

“It is wonderful the church does this for the community,” said Altamirano. “Regardless of faith, it’s nice to have everybody together.”

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