The Monroe Township Parks and Recreation Commission welcomed a large crowd and creative floats and costumes to Owen’s Park for its annual fall festival and Halloween parade on Oct. 22.
“The parade was phenomenal,” said Donna Park, chairperson of the commission. “The crowds started coming in an hour early putting up their chairs. Main Street was packed … For me, it is a tradition: I walked in the parade when I was 5 years old, so now planning it all these years later is really special.”
The day included hayrides, pony rides, games and pumpkin decorating. According to Park, each child who participated won a special prize and 900 pumpkins were there for the picking, some of which were carried home in the arms of happy kids.
“You get to see the children smiling all day long,” said Brent Salvadori, director of the commission. “Even into the evening, you start to see the parents excited and happy like children themselves.”
After morning and afternoon activities, the festivities continued with the Halloween parade at 7 along Main Street. According to Salvadori, there were more than 75 participants registered for the parade, but more than 100 residents actually participated.
“Some of the floats had 50 people on them,” said Parks. “So while 75 floats signed up to participate, each float brought out even more participants.”
New this year, the commission decided to honor local veterans during the events, with a dozen chosen as parade grand marshals.
“Our first float was the Hometown Heroes, with our banner that said “Monroe Township Annual Halloween Parade,” said Salvadori. “There were about a dozen on the float … We thought about what we do for the vets besides Veterans Day and Memorial Day, and decided this was a good way to honor them.”
Other parade attendees included Monroe sports teams; local Boy and Girl Scouts; Little Miss Monroe Township winners; and Miss Harbor Shores, a Williamstown native. Police, fire and EMS departments were represented, along with the local ROTC. Businesses involved were from 13th Child Brewery, Ajax Towing and Dance Factory, among others.
This year, the commission invited three of the Monroe Township Middle School’s secretaries to be parade judges; and prizes went to the best floats in large, medium and small categories, as well as best costumes. Judging, said Salvadori, was not easy.
“For 20 years I have been doing this, and I know I say this every year, but this year was spectacular,” he noted. “This parade, the floats were so imaginative and creative, something we had never seen before.”
At the end of the night, public works employees took to the streets to wipe Main Street clean for the next upcoming event, the township’s Reverse Christmas parade.
For more information on the commission and upcoming events visit the Monroe Township Parks and Recreation Facebook page.
The winners of the parade were:
1st Place – Hot Dog Cart
2nd Place – Batman
3rd Place – Gnome
1st Place – A Jacks Towing and Kidspace Learning Center
2nd Place – Crimson Divas Majorette Dance Team
3nd Place – Girl Scout Troop 61647
1st Place – Danny’s Farm Market “Christmas”
2nd Place – Sport Clips “SuperHeroes + Villains”
1st Place – Shaun’s Story Fishing Shack
2nd Place – Monroe Township Youth Hockey
3rd Place – St. Mary’s School “Soar to New Heights”
1st Place – Might Braves Wrestling “WWE”
2nd Place – Monroe Township Braves Football and Cheer
“We’re all a Little Mad Here”
3rd Place – Famous Razor Barber Shop & Johnston Group LLC
“Scooby in the Pines”