Residents and guests lined the streets of downtown Toms River in anticipation of the start of the 80th annual Halloween parade on the evening of Oct. 31.
Some guests had their spots staked out as early as 10 a.m. Even though the night was slightly chilly, parents came out in costumes along with their children.
The youngsters waved glow sticks and “Star Wars” lightsabers as they displayed their excitement during the parade. Since the parade’s inception, it has been organized by Toms River Volunteer Fire Company No. 1.
The parade started at the Toms River Shopping Center at Route 37 and Main Street (Route 166), moved down Main Street, to Washington Street, and ended at Hooper Avenue.
The parade began with the Toms River Police Department and Township Council members, followed by decorated floats, families and school band performances.
Sherri Brown of Toms River said, “My daughter is in the parade, in the color guard of the Marching Raiders from Toms River High School East. I have lived in Toms River for 50 years. This parade is a tradition for my family. It is also a nice weather night tonight,” Brown said.
She said the fact the parade has been held for 80 years is a great reflection on Toms River.
“We have a great town. Toms River is a great place to live,” Brown said.
Mark Stalter of Toms River said, “I am here because my youngest grandchild is in the parade. For the last 15 years, my family has been coming to and participating in the parade. All of my grandchildren have participated in the parade.”
He said the Halloween parade is great for the community and surrounding municipalities every year.
Resident Ava Coache, representing Wellspring Church, said she and fellow members of the church wanted to show the community love and hand out free hot chocolate.
“Downtown Toms River is the heartbeat of Toms River. We have been walking in this parade since we became a church. It is a really cool experience. I am excited. I love parades,” Coache said.
Jimmy Hughes has been in Toms River since the 1970s. He attended the parade on its 25th and 50th anniversaries.
“The parade looks really good. I love the parade. I tell people all the time they have to come to this event. Seeing the community come out in force tonight makes me feel good. I am really excited for this parade every year,” Hughes said.