Toms River is a large township of about 100,000 residents in Ocean County, New Jersey. It is well-known as a movie location and appears in the original "The Amityville Horror" movie, MTV's "Made" and "Jersey Shore" (seasons 1 and 3) and HBO's "Boardwalk Empire." The first Halloween parade was held there on Oct. 31, 1919, and it has now become an annual fund-raiser for the local fire department, attracting tens of thousands of people. The 73rd parade was held in 2010.
The Halloween parade in Toms River is the largest Halloween parade in the United States and is the second largest in the world, according to the "Guinness Book of World Records." Around 500 to 600 participate, and there are approximately 100,000 onlookers. Anybody who wants to join the parade can register at the fire house on the day, then go to the mall parking lot where the parade starts. It takes 45 minutes to an hour to walk the route, and prizes are awarded.
The Halloween parade starts from the Toms River Center located at Main Street and Route 37. It begins at 7 p.m. and travels south on Main Street, then east on Washington Street and finishes at Hooper Avenue. There are plenty of places to watch along the route. At the end of the parade is a judging stand where trophies are handed out at the Ocean County Administration Building at 101 Hooper Avenue. Any late changes to the parade will be announced on 92.7 FM, 100.1 FM, 94.3 FM, 95.9 FM, and 98.5 FM.
Planning, Parking and Facilities
It is best to plan in advance where you will watch from and get there early. You can take chairs, cushions or blankets if you want to be seated. Suggested parking is at the Ocean County Parking Garage on Madison Avenue between Hooper Avenue and Hadley Avenue. Portable restrooms are set up at the Toms River Center, opposite the Firehouse on Robbins Street, across from the judges' stand (Washington Street and Court House Lane), at 218 Main Street, and where the parade ends.
If you have not visited the Halloween parade before, you are in for a treat. There is everything from simple face masks to fully mechanized fire-breathing floats. Get in the spirit of the celebration and let children wear masks and costumes. To get the most from the event, it is best to plan ahead, pick your viewing spot and get there in plenty of time. You may enjoy it so much that you will return again next year.
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