Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. - Zombies, witches, killer-clowns and famous slasher-movie characters populated the woods and buildings of Shoreline Park to create an environment of horror and fright for the patrons of "Theatrical Nightmare: A Walk in the Dark," Oct. 28 - 30.
Music of the macabre, highlighted by blood-curdling screams, could be heard from the parking lot, as thick fog blanketed the dark woods of Shoreline Park.
"We don't want to give the little kids nightmares," said Bill Strock, Theatrical Nightmare director. "We want to give the big kids and adults nightmares."
As a serpentine line gathered at the front entrance to the show, the crowd was buzzing about what to expect. By the end of the tour, patrons were clamoring about what a great time they had.
Bill Strock has been running "Theatrical Nightmare" for the past 17 years, including the last two at Shoreline Park.
"It's a good way to meet new people," said volunteer, SPC Sarah Langford, 5-5 Air Defense Artillery. "It was actually a lot of fun, but it was a little too scary for the little kids."
"Every year, something new and fun happens," Strock said.
This year, there were characters for everyone. The production utilized more than half of the park. The tour began with killer clowns and proceeded to hidden zombies in a graveyard. Jason Vorhees and his mother, characters from the "Friday the 13th" movies, hid out in an old boathouse as a deranged group of villians, cultivated from various horror movies, menaced the halls of a hilltop building. At the end of the tour, patrons were ushered out by Freddy Krueger, from "A Nightmare on Elm Street."
"The clowns are my favorite thing," Strock said. "Nothing like a scary clown...but then, all clowns are kind of scary."
Volunteers from the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program dressed up in tattered clothes, masks and fake blood to complete the production's frightful setting.
"We need at least 35 volunteers per night to run this right," said Strock.
The patrons of "Theatrical Nightmare" were having fun trying to spot tour-characters before they sprung out of the dark and the volunteers were having fun jumping out at the patrons, giving a good startle and putting on a good performance.
"It's a great way to give back to the kids," said volunteer, PFC David Cronk, HQ Sniper Section , C Company, 4/23 Infantry Battalion. "I've done this kind of thing since I was nine. It's fun for us and fun for them."
According to Strock, there's an average of about 1,200 people who come to enjoy the production each year.
Melony Graham, Soldier's spouse, 23rd Chemical Battalion, and her family raved about different sites of the tour that were the scariest.
"[B.O.S.S.} put on a good program," Graham said. "Really good acting!"
At the end of each night, the cast members were commended on their hard work and commitment to the characters they were portraying. There was both a sense of pride in the performance each volunteer gave and a job-well-done in the overall satisfaction for the patrons of "Theatrical Nightmare: A Walk in the Dark."
To volunteer for or find out about upcoming B.O.S.S. events, visit the MWR website at or call 253-967-5636.