By Staff Sgt. David OversonOctober 31, 2017
HOHENFELS, Germany -- Ghosts, ghouls and goblins are scary on any occasion, but when seen in a Haunted Village presented by the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment on Halloween weekend, in the Hohenfels Training Area, it can scare the daylights out of anyone.
That's exactly what occurred to more than 800 Soldiers, citizens and their family members as they strolled, and at times crawled, through the Haunted Village Oct. 28 -- 29 with true Halloween spirit in tow. Though the intent was to have fun, the gathering of ghouls doubled as a fund raiser for the 1-4 IN BN as they raised approximately $3,000 for future Soldier centered events.
One of the main architects of this spook-o-rama was the drama teacher from the Hohenfels Middle-High School, BJ. Nicklin, who enjoyed working directly with the Soldiers as they took on the deadly role of those frightening undead demons. BJ. taught a special effects class to those participating about a week prior to the event, and helped out on the days of the event also to ensure the undead truly looked their part.
Additionally, some of Nicklin's students participated in the frightful festivities as well. Donning masks, costumes and special make-up effects, they enjoyed their fair share of frightening unsuspecting people as they tried to survive the night.
"It's always a privilege to be able to interact with the soldiers in the community," said Nicklin. "It's why we're here in the first place. It's nice that the skills I teach in my drama class at the Middle high school can be applied to a unique community event such as the Haunted Village. My students are incredibly talented and creative, so having the opportunity to bring them out to help 'Gorify' the soldiers and participate as actors at the Haunted Village was an amazing collaboration opportunity between the Joint Multinational Readiness Center and the High School."
Vague history tells us that this village had once been haunted before approximately four years ago, but those demons had all been exercised, and it was thought to be safe once again to go about one's business in the area. That is until… evil reared its ugly head again this All Hallows' Eve weekend.
Ghastly pride could be seen beaming from the face of the 1-4 IN BN's senior enlisted Soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Crawford, as he witnessed the scary carnage his Soldiers were wreaking on the innocent people who were simply trying to survive a dreadful night.
"I am extremely proud of all the Soldiers who came out to support this great event," said Crawford. "It was through their strong motivational and team building skills that made the Haunted Village a success, not only for 1-4, but for the Hohenfels Community."
The Haunted Village consisted of three different buildings filled with terrifying and unearthly creatures lurking about, and waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting living. In a sense, it was a guided tour through the village to minimize the monstrous fright, but tragedy still struck on numerous occasions throughout the weekend.
"The part that brings me the most joy is seeing the Hohenfels military and civilian community come together to support one another," added Crawford. "It provides the opportunity for civilians and family members to go into the training area and learn more about where the Soldiers work. Additionally, it gives the community an opportunity to get a better perspective of the mission when they actually get to walk through the areas where we train."
Rumors of the Haunted Village travelled so far that the Armed Forces Network (AFN) Radio Europe decided to simulcast their radio program from the village. While doing so, DJs interviewed one brave 6-year-old, Bently Raven, who said, "It wasn't scary." Clearly he is a future leader, and possibly a demon slayer.
"Making Halloween special in Germany is always a challenge since it is very much an American tradition and not readily observed in Germany," added Nicklin. "Making certain American kids have the same thrills and chills that the kids back home have is important to everyone in the community and the Haunted Village certainly provided that. I am grateful that 1-4 brought this awesome tradition back and I hope they continue the Haunted Village for years to come."