Frightful fun

North Bergen families celebrate Halloween at the annual parade

Roughly 1,200 children dressed up as Mickey Mouse, The Incredibles, killers from The Purge, and more for the annual North Bergen Halloween Parade at the Recreation Center this year.

The North Bergen High School Marching Band led the parade, which wound past Lincoln Elementary School and back to the rec center, where a line of eager kids awaited to enter or try out rides like the mini-Ferris wheel.

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Once indoors, each child received a candy apple and a light-up Halloween bucket filled with treats including cookies, a coloring book, light-up pens, and more, before greeting Mayor Nicholas Sacco and Commissioners Hugo Cabrera, Julio Marenco, and Allen Pascual.

Deputy Director James Avella and Ruth Evertz, secretary to Cabrera, helped organize this year’s Halloween event. They began the planning process back in August.

“This is all for the kids,” said Avella. “You’ll see nothing like this anywhere else… and the fact that we do it on Halloween helps keep kids off the streets.”

The center’s gymnasium was transformed into a pumpkin patch surrounded by light-up inflatable Halloween decorations. Families took pictures with them.

This year had a new addition to the annual festivities — the “Spooky Carn-evil” with carnival-style booths with games such as a horseshoe toss, ring toss, and fair foods like popcorn and cotton candy.

5-year-old Matthew Lafi and his dog Manolo dressed up as characters from the Stephen King classic “It.”

“He loves all that macabre stuff,” said his father, Ara Lafi, who added that his mother made his costume, apart from the clown wig and severed hand he carried.

Lafi said he thinks it’s important to come to community events the town throws. “That’s what makes the town and community stronger,” he said.

Lifelong resident Michelle Reyes recently moved away from North Bergen, but came back with her children, especially for the parade which she remembers attending as a child.

“It’s completely different. It’s really changed so much. For one thing, we didn’t use to have the Recreation Center,” she laughed. “This is my favorite holiday and I love that the town does something so safe that the whole family can come to and enjoy.”

Eight-year-old Kiara Villalona dressed up as a character from “The Purge: Election Year,” her favorite of the purge movie franchise.

“I like scaring people because it’s fun to see their reactions and getting candy,” she said, noting that her favorite candy bar is a Charleston Chew.

Lidia and Michael Carvajal and their 2-year-old son Mekiel dressed as the super family from Pixar’s “The Incredibles” this year.

Lidia said this was their first time attending the North Bergen Halloween festivities, as they felt Mekiel was old enough to participate.

“We need more activities like this,” said Lidia. “I think it is events like this that bring people together and build a stronger community as a whole.”

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