The Monroe Township Department of Community Affairs kicked off its sixth annual scarecrow contest on Oct. 17, but without some contestants who declined this year due to COVID-19.
“With COVID-19, you are kind of pushing the grain, because some people don’t feel comfortable,” said township Community Affairs Director Brandee Derieux. “I reached out to some people who did it last year and said, ‘Well, we would like to do it this year, but the numbers are going back up and I’m afraid.’ And I understand.”
This year’s 10 participants created scarecrows that will decorate Main Street from the Pfeiffer Center toward Clayton Avenue. Some of them include Lions Club members, the Williamstown Library and local day-care centers.
“The ones we have this year, I am happy with, because it is better than having none,” said Derieux.
Participants had until Oct. 23 to put up scarecrows. The best scarecrow was the Dorothy character from “The Wizard of Oz,” by Williamstown residents Marley and Rylie Vail. The Vails will receive a plaque to commemorate this year’s contest. Runner-up was the Williamstown Lions Club.
The scarecrow contest was created six years ago by Councilwoman Katherine Falcone. She created the event during her stints on the Chamber of Commerce and the Main Street Committee. Last year, the event was passed on to the Community Affairs Department, run by Derieux. Despite the pandemic, she wanted to continue the tradition.
“With the scarecrows, we are putting them out to let residents know we are all still doing something,” Derieux said. “We are patronizing everything here, and it shows unity.”
COVID caused most of the township’s Parks and Recreation events to be canceled this fall, including a festival that brings thousands of patrons to local businesses. In order to offset the cancellations, the Community Affairs Department will also host a Trunk-or-Treat event on Halloween.
“This way, the kids can still have something,” Derieux noted. “These kids have had everything taken from them (due to COVID-19).”
Cars will be lined up in every other parking spot at the middle school from 1 to 4 p.m. All participants are required to wear masks and be socially distant. There will be one way in and one way out to prevent crowds and to ensure distancing.
“Social distancing can take place,” said Derieux. “Walk with your family unit and make sure there is 6 feet in front of you and 6 feet behind you. There will be buckets and tables for the candy.”
The Parks and Recreation Committee will host a Reverse Christmas Parade on a date yet to be determined. The event will allow residents to drive through town looking at decorations instead of having a large crowd gather to watch the parade.
“(Parks and Recreation) wanted to give something to the people, a grand finale to the end of 2020, the year that keeps on giving,” said Derieux. “I am looking forward to seeing what next year is going to hold.
“I think it is giving us new events and new ideas to collaborate with, and I think we are all pretty optimistic.”