Now in its eighth year, the Holy Eve Community Carnival runs from 2 to 9 p.m. on Halloween at Somersville Towne Center, 2556 Somersville Road in Antioch. There is no charge for admission.
The carnival provides an alcohol-free, smoke-free family atmosphere loaded with activities including go-karts, rock climbing, pony rides, a petting zoo, a food court, carnival rides and a Cool Zone for kids, featuring face painting, jumpers, rides and prizes.
The event began in 2003, when Grace Bible Fellowship took root in Antioch. In October of that year, the church held its first block party, followed by the Holy Eve event the next day. The carnival rapidly grew to become a major event.
“The growth was phenomenal. What started out as a couple hundred people turned into thousands over the years,” said Pastor Kirkland A. Smith. “In 2007, we decided to make the carnival more family-friendly, so we added television game show favorites like ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ and ‘Family Feud.’ We gave away a car, a trip and other things, getting adults more engaged, so they started coming to the carnival in costumes. It allowed parents and children a chance to participate in an evening together, where they didn’t have to worry about safety or incur any cost.”
By 2009, more than 25,000 people showed up for the event. “People came from neighboring cities like Brentwood and Oakley,” said Smith, “and as far away as Stockton, East Palo Alto and Richmond, making it no longer an east or west Contra Costa County event, but an event that draws thousands from all over the Bay Area.”
Last year, the Holy Eve event found a new and spacious home at the Somersville Towne Center. An easily identifiable security team will be on hand to keep things peaceful and safe while handling special needs that arise.
The carnival is a success but can’t happen without hundreds of volunteers, Smith said, including volunteer superstar and church member Cleve Porter: “Cleve has worked tirelessly with a staff of hundreds of volunteers every year. If anyone exudes the love of making people happy, it’s him. His heart is for the people of this community. It shows in the thousands of hours he puts in each year. He leads the organizing of this event; he’s administratively savvy and tremendously talented.”
Smith said the church picks up the tab for all the fun, but that donations and volunteers are still needed. Checks can be made payable to HECC (Holy Eve Community Carnival) and mailed to 913 Sunset Drive, Antioch, CA 94509 or dropped off at the church. To volunteer even as little as a half hour, call Porter at 909-559-9891.