For the past 17 years, Halloween on Thompson Street in Bordentown City has become a staple attraction in the area.
This annual community event continues to draw thousands of people both in and out-of-state.
Thia yearly popular event was founded and coordinated by city residents Frank Rios and Pat Patrizio, two artists with an affection for Halloween who began creating all their own displays based on a theme. This event began in 2001.
“It was started for the Bordentown people and it has turned into a bigger event,” said Patrizio. “It’s a peaceful, happy event that’s all about having a good time.”
As their neighbors began to take notice, Rios and Patrizio said the majority of Thompson Street’s residents began wanting to contribute to the project as well, which soon became a local event for everyone.
Each year, a new theme is chosen for the homeowners to base their decorative displays on. Previous themes have included Peter Pan, Alice In Wonderland and the most popular one to date according to Patrizio, The Wizard of Oz.
Alongside the decorative displays, the event has evolved throughout the years as well, including the addition of in-costume characters and live performances.
With this year’s chosen theme being Hansel and Gretel, Patrizio said prior to the event that he expected it to be another success, as he’d already been questioned and approached on it from several locals as early as Summer.
“The people will ask us in June, ‘what’s your theme?’ The mayor calls, too, ‘what’s your theme?’ Everyone tries to guess it,” Patrizio added. “A lot of kids like to dress in theme [for the event]. I had a little girl come up to me and she said, ‘I’m going to be Gretel.’ So, they try to go to the theme of what we’re doing, which is pretty neat.”
Although the annual event continues to be a major draw for kids and adults alike as an evening of fun and trick-or-treating, Patrizio believes its significance delves deeper into defining the community as well.
“I think the most important thing is that it gets people together. It’s for all ages, all races and everyone is getting along – everyone is enjoying it,” said Patrizio. “It represents Bordentown City itself as a great place to live – that people here are very accepting and diverse as a town.”
Growing up, Patrizio says that Halloween was a major event in his hometown of Levittown, Pennsylvania, where nearly every home was decorated and handed out candy.
Wanting to recapture the holiday’s spirit and familiarity with it alongside Rios for more than a decade now, the two carry the event forward year-after-year for the local adults and youth.
“The kids are growing up and now they’re bringing their kids too,” Patrizio added. “We’re creating memories for kids – the same memories I had as a kid.”
Having already established a local popularity with the annual event, Patrizio says that he and Rios’ main hope for the tradition along Thompson Street will be upheld and passed onto current residents when their subsequent decision to stop comes.
“I hope that people pick it up and continue it when we can’t do it anymore,” Patrizio said. “I hope that other houses in Bordentown pick it up because it’s a fun, city-wide event.”