And so the great experiment has apparently failed and as a result Halloween in Toms River and some of the surrounding towns will return to normalcy, if that’s what you want to call it. 

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In case you’re late to the party you probably know that for 76 years (going on 77) Toms River Volunteer Fire Company #1 has organized a giant Halloween parade which is billed as the second largest in the world although I’ve never bought into the estimated crowd number of 100,000 but that’s me.  Clearly it’s big and a tradition and it causes problems.

For more than seven decades the parade was held on October 31st which is of course Halloween.  That presents a dilemma in regards to what kids like best about the day, trick or treating.  The solution was that Toms River and surrounding towns like South Toms River, Pine Beach and Beachwood would declare the day before as the one in which kids (and those pretending to be) could trick or treat which freed-up everyone to attend the parade on Halloween night.

Toms River Halloween Parade in 2011
Toms River Halloween Parade in 2011 (

For the most part this worked well although newcomers to the area often got caught off-guard when kids would ring their doorbell on October 30th looking for treats.  Not headline material but a problem in some cases because wherever they came from you went out trick or treating on the holiday itself.

However what I did hear from many were complaints over the double-dippers who came from out of town.  Neighborhoods would in some cases be visited by large groups of mostly teenagers who figured they would fill their pillow cases with candy away from home one night and then hit their community the next.

The solution came a couple of years ago when the fire company decided to move the parade to the Saturday before Halloween, a move that was applauded by many, including yours truly.  However even though it sounded like a good idea it turned out it was not as the fire company said the number of participants and watchers dropped significantly and what was once a 3-hour stroll down Main & Washington Streets was done in just over an hour.

So late this summer they announced the parade was going back to Halloween night (Saturday, October 31) which put town officials on the spot in regards to “declaring” a Trick or Treat night.  As you might expect they had little choice in this so in Toms River, South Toms River, Pine Beach and Beachwood treating (nobody asks for tricks) will be on Friday, the 30th.  If you live somewhere else assume it’s on the 31st but if you doorbell rings the night before don’t be shocked.

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