The members of the Townsends Inlet Improvement Association are hosting their annual Halloween event Saturday, a professional children's show and costume contest at the Townsends Inlet Civic Center at the south end of Sea Isle City.

New to the event this year, the Townsends Inlet Civic Center has been transformed into a non-scary, family-friendly Halloween haunted house, extravagantly decorated with larger-than-life, hand-painted wooden cutouts of Frankenstein, werewolfs, goblins and other popular Halloween characters to add to the festivities.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the maintenance of the Townsends Inlet Civic Center, a historic structure built circa 1888, that is in need of restoration.

The decorations for the haunted house were hand-crafted by one woman, Sea Isle City native and current president of the Townsends Inlet Improvement Association Louise Clemente, who has spent the past few months devoted to this project. She said her son helped her to hang the display.

Clemente is a longtime member of the association and is dedicated to the keeping the Townsends Inlet Civic Center maintained.

"It's a building that serves the community 24/7," she said. "There have been many people before me that have hosted events and fundraisers to keep it going, and someone will come after me and continue on for generations. It's important for us have a place like this."

Because of building's condition - the roof needs to be restabilized, ceiling tiles show signs of leaks and the paint on the walls is peeling, to name a few issues - the need for community to attend this year's annual Halloween show and show support for the center is greater than ever, Clemente said. That's why she she decided to make this year's program bigger and better than event with the added haunted house.

As in past years, the children's show will being performed by Tucker's Tales, a professional Pennsylvania-based theater group, she said.

Tucker's Tales also performs the association's annual Christmas show held in the civic center, which is its largest annual fundraiser.

On a recent afternoon, Clemente and fellow Townsends Inlet Improvement Association volunteers Irene Bukowski, Don O'Conner and Fran Cleary stood inside the civic center finalizing the plans for the Halloween event and recalling memories of the building's past uses.

"Remember when St. Joe's (Catholic Church in Sea Isle City) used to have local amateur shows here?" Bukowski said to the group.

"The original ARP chapter 710 originated here, the Little Miss Sea Isle contest originated here, they used to have teenage dances here," Clemente said. "A lot of things started here because there was nothing really downtown."

She said her ultimate dream would be to restore the building to its former glory, but she's happy enough to see it still housing community events.

"It's just something good for the community, and we're just trying to keep it going," Clemente said.

Contact Elisa Lala:

609-463-6713

If you go

What: Professional children's Halloween show and costume contest presented by the Townsends Inlet Civic Center

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27

Where: Townsends Inlet Civic Center, 138 85th Street, Sea Isle City

Cost: $5 for children, $10 for adults. Tickets are sold at Rick's Breakfast House, 6114 Landis Ave., SIC. To reserve tickets call Louise Clemente at 609-263-3002.

All proceeds benefit the Townsends Inlet Civic Center. Learn more at senaworld.org.