NORTH WILDWOOD — Although the borough is one of the busiest places in South Jersey during the summer, its seasonal nature makes it tough for year-round residents to find houses for trick-or-treating.
For the 10th consecutive year, North Wildwood is offering local children an alternative to walking or being driven long distances between the few houses still occupied in the offseason.
Set up on Olde New Jersey Avenue between Second and Walnut avenues, the trunk-or-treat Saturday will feature a line of cars decorated in the spirit of the holiday while kids dressed in costumes take candy from the trunks.
Trunk-or-treating, known as “Halloween tailgating” in other areas of the country, is still a relatively new tradition that has helped solve trick-or-treating issues in both rural areas, where houses are far apart, and urban areas, where many other people walk the streets while kids knock on doors looking for candy.
The practice has been embraced by communities and churches throughout the country.
“It’s really about safety for the kids,” said Steve DeHorsey, assistant superintendent of recreation in North Wildwood. “And we host it on a Saturday, so kids can go trick-or-treating on Halloween if they and their parents really want to.”
North Wildwood previously hosted a Halloween-themed skating event around the holiday. But the event kept getting canceled because the rink would get flooded during high tide, DeHorsey said. So the borough started thinking of other events it could hold instead.
“After going through those hurdles (with the rink), we decided to try a trunk-or-treat because it was something that had already been successful in other places,” he said.
It has since evolved into an event where children can get candy, walk through a haunted house at the Greater Wildwood Elks Lodge across the street and trick-or-treat at local businesses in the immediate area.
“The event just keeps growing every year,” DeHorsey said. “We have 25 cars signed up right now, and I suspect there will be over 200 kids the night of the event.”
DeHorsey said some of the most popular themes on the cars every year are superheroes, and the North Wildwood Fire Department has adopted that theme and dressed firefighters up as heroes in previous years.
Organizers also have discussed expanding the event, DeHorsey said. In other areas across the country, the annual trunk or treat is accompanied by a carnival with rides and food trucks.
In addition to North Wildwood, there are countless trunk-or-treats happening throughout South Jersey, from Cape May Court House to Galloway Township.
Egg Harbor Township High School hosted its first trunk-or-treat last October. Although it was a small event, the high school learned from its first year and, earlier this month, saw more than 500 people attend the second annual event.
The EHT event was conceived by teachers Danielle Brady, Mike Passante and Josh Lesser, with help from local businesses sponsoring the event.
“We took this absence of a great idea and brought it to life with great success. The idea behind trunk-or-treat is to have a safe and fun alternative for children to come out and get the Halloween experience,” Brady said. “There is a lot of controversy on Halloween with the hours and how and where children are allowed to go trick or treating. Trunk-or-treat helps allow for an easier and even sometimes more eventful Halloween experience.”