Township children had a devilishly good time at North Bergen’s free Halloween party, a combination haunted house, pony ride, and gift receiving extravaganza at the Recreation Center.
For two hours, more than a thousand trick-or-treaters up to age 9 streamed into the dimly lit rec center gymnasium, trying to avoid the nefarious creatures that lurked in the darkness, in North Bergen’s own version of a haunted house. If they made it through to the gym’s far side, they were rewarded with a brief meeting with Mayor Nicholas Sacco and township commissioners and received a Halloween goody pail.
“We’re just taking pictures and picking a pumpkin and having a good time,” said Erika Sanchez.
“The girls wanted to go trick or treating and then we came and are taking pictures here,” said Erika Castro, there with her daughter, Tiffany, 10, and daughter’s friend, Kiara Cantos, 8. “This is really nice what they’re doing here.”
This was Mariuxi Luzarraga’s initial visit to the party with daughter Valerie Aracena.
“This is the first time we’ve come, because she’s only 3 years old,” Luzarraga said.
“To see the little kids smile is great.”– Agnes Velasquez
“I want to help little children so they would be safe,” Velasquez said. “Instead of going outside, they could come inside here and get some treats.
“To see the little kids smile is great,” she said.
“This is the most phenomenal thing,” said Issel Arroyo, who was there with sons Alex, 8, and Angel, 6. “I love all the things they do here.”
The annual tradition was even more appreciated this year, after last year’s holiday observation was celebrated late due to Hurricane Sandy.
“Maybe that’s why the turnout is great,” township spokesman Philip Swibinski said. “The people want to get back into the swing of things. The kids were ready to roll.”
In addition to Sacco, township Commissioners Allen Pascual and Hugo Cabrera greeted participants. Police Chief Robert Dowd, recreation supervisor John Cellini, and recreation aide John Prato also took part in the festivities.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.