One of South Jersey's most unusual and powerful storms also created a very unusual Halloween.
Gov. Chris Christie signed an executive order Wednesday rescheduling Halloween celebrations to Nov. 5 because of the unsafe conditions in Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath. That meant children who had the day off from schools because of the storm couldn’t take advantage of the extra time to trick-or-treat.
Julianna Evinski, 10, of Linwood, took the news of the postponement in stride.
“It was a good idea to postpone it because it wasn’t really safe because the trees could fall down when they were walking, and it was dark if you didn’t have a flashlight,” said Evinski, who added that Halloween can’t be canceled, but trick-or-treat can be postponed. “You could get hurt or trip over something.”
Steve and Catherine Evinski usually take their three girls trick-or-treating with Farah Hazazeh, 9, of Linwood, and her family.
The Evinski girls’ costumes have been selected for Halloween. Julianna will be dressed as a witch in a black dress. Her younger sisters, Charlotte, 7, and Helena, 4, will be dressed as gold and purple princesses respectively.
Catherine Evinski, 40, said last year the family went trick-or-treating for about 90 minutes. Her girls didn’t seem concerned about waiting.
“I think they are always delighted with whatever they receive (as far as candy),” said Catherine Evinski. “They don’t really have a specific thing that they look forward to. They are excited just to get dressed up in costumes.”
Jeffrey Vasser, 52, of Linwood, said his children understand they have to postpone showing off their costumes this year.
“We prepared them that the storm could get in the way of a lot of things, that trick-or-treating will be postponed,” Jeffrey Vasser said.
Vasser’s youngest, Zachary, 7, will be in a ninja costume. Vasser’s older son, Carson, 9, will be dressed up as General Grievous, a character from the “Star Wars” movies. Jeffrey Vasser usually takes his son trick-or-treating while their mother, Angela Vasser, stays home and hands out the candy.
The assortment this year includes Swedish Fish candy, Baby Ruth, Butterfinger and Nestle’s Crunch.
Vasser, president of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority, said he is a bigger threat getting into the candy during the extra days that it will be sitting in the home compared to his sons.
Following the derecho in June, the Hamilton Mall was one of the stations where residents could pick up water, but following Sandy it was the local source for candy distribution.
Trick-or-treating is a tradition at the mall, but last night the turnout was huge. Hundreds of kids went store to store with their parents.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Michael R. Dean, a Hamilton Mall representative. “We had 5,000 pieces of candy and we’re almost out. At 5 p.m. it was wall-to-wall people. We haven’t seen a crowd like this in a long time.”
Dean said that the large turnout was due to Halloween cancellations throughout the area.
“Usually we’d go around Mays Landing, Victoria Crossings, but really the storm is the only reason we came here,” said Bernard Williams, of Somers Point.
His daughter, Aliyah Williams, was dressed as Minnie Mouse. Bernard Williams said that they would probably also trick-or-treat during Mays Landing’s official Halloween on Monday night. He said that the large crowds at the mall made it hard to trick-or-treat.
“Long lines at the elevator, at the stores, and they’re running out of candy,” he said.
Halloween is a celebration based on fake scares with ghouls, goblins, blood, monsters and witches.
Atlantic City residents who had to leave their homes because of Hurricane Sandy have already had enough terrifying moments for this year.
Those being housed in the shelter at the Pleasantville Middle and High Schools complex were shown more of happy time than a frightening time Wednesday when volunteers surprised the children with costumes, candy, balloons and face painting.
Hanifah Beyah, 45, of Atlantic City, said her son Saadat Hamilton, 5, woke up crying on Wednesday. He said the words, “No Halloween.”
Beyah told the American Red Cross that it would be nice to do something for the children, and candy would make them happy. Last year, Beyah took the three children she watches — her grandson, Nahjajuah Ellis, 11, her nephew Isiah Marshall, 9, and her son — to a trick-or-treating party. This year, Beyah was planning to stay in and have fun at home watching movies and eating candy apples
Later that day, Saadat, who loves firetrucks, was dressed as a firefighter sitting contently at a table playing with toy firetrucks. Isiah was dressed as a convict. Even Nahjajuah, who wasn’t in costume, seemed pleased.
“My son was very happy ... I’m happier now,” Beyah said.
Suzette Thornton, 44, already experienced her Halloween shocks ahead of time when her granddaughter, Treyona Thornton, 17 month, woke her up Monday morning with the words, “feet wet,” to alert the grandmother that water was in their Atlantic City home.
Treyona Thornton was dressed as a bumblebee and was too young to know everything happening to the family.
Suzette Thornton sounded disappointed she was not at home giving out a great deal of candy to the neighborhood children, and in her words, “trying to ruin all their teeth and sending them back hyper to their parents,” but she was grateful that her landlord rescued her Monday morning, and that the Red Cross, school, police and other organizations made a Halloween celebration for the children.
“I didn’t know it was Halloween. I didn’t know what day it was,” Thornton said.
Last year, Brian Aguilar, 10, dressed as a pirate for Halloween and went trick-or-treating in his Atlantic City neighborhood. This year, he was in the shelter set up at the Pleasantville Middle and High Schools with his father, Ranulfo Aguilar, 36, and his sister, Crystal, 5. Ranulfo Aguilar said the party at the shelter was beautiful, and at least, the children had something to celebrate.
“I thought we were going to miss Halloween,” said Brian Aguilar, who eventually was dressed up as vampire with two days worth of candy for him to eat. “I’m happy.”
Staff Writer David Simpson contributed to this report.
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