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Halloween Comes In Berkeley -- Albeit A Little Late

Trick-or-treating at Berkeley Township Elementary School draws hundreds of children and families

In Diane Petrecca's neighborhood, there's a live wire down. It lies in the street, near Hoover and Lexington avenues, a couple of blocks east of Western Boulevard.

"There's 10 houses on our street," she said. "We're low on the priority list" for getting the line, brought down by Hurricane Sandy, repaired, she said.

But that line is why her children would have been unable to go trick-or-treating door to door in their neighborhood. The danger just wasn't worth it, she said.

But as she walked along the sidewalk at Berkeley Township Elementary School on Friday with sons Nicolas, 10, Jacob, 5, and 17-month-old Conner, she smiled.

"This was a great idea this year," she said. "It worked out very well."

While Gov. Chris Christie officially rescheduled Halloween to Nov. 5 for the entire state in the wake of the destruction caused by Sandy, Berkeley Township officials were concerned about the idea of children going door to door with so many trees and power lines expected to still be down that day. So they came up with the idea of moving it indoors -- into the halls of Berkeley Township Elementary School on Friday instead.

"We wanted the children to be safe," said Dr. James Roselli, superintendent of the Berkeley school district.

The community responded, with dozens of people donating candy and dozens more volunteering their time to decorate the school and hand out candy.

"I like it," said Jessica Schlottfeld, a speech therapist at BTES and Bayville School. "We know our students are safe and we actually get to see more of them" than if the children were going door to door. "It's good to see so many familiar faces."

Lauren Connolly of Bayville pushed a stroller holding 1-year-old Kylie and 4-month-old Kelsey through the hallways, which had been decorated with paper bats and Jack o'lanterns, cobwebs and creepy curtains to dim the sunshine coming through windows on the stairwell doors. The song "Thriller" played in the background as children's excited voices filled the halls.

"I think it was a good idea," she said, as Austin, 8, waited patiently to continue his quest for candy. "It's good that they get to go trick-or-treating."

"This was outstanding," said John Truhan, who brought his children, Kristi, 11 and John, 8, to the school in the afternoon. "My son loved seeing his  teachers."

"It is a great way for the community to come together after what's happened," Truhan said.

"I'm sad we're not going door to door," said Felicia Fraulo, "but I'm glad the community came together. Some towns haven't done anything."

While the district laid out a rough schedule for trick-or-treaters based on the elementary schools they attend, they made it clear the event was open to the students' families and the entire community.

Walter Draghn stood holding granddaughter Michelle Jackson-Byers, who had come from Lakewood to walk the halls with her cousins who live in Bayville.

"This is terrific," he said. "What a wonderful thing they've done here."

Roselli and Jerry Duggan, a teacher at Clara B. Worth Elementary and the representative of the district's teachers union, said they heard a number of parents who liked the idea of continuing the event past this year.

And while the idea was generally well-received, old traditions will die hard.

"My oldest son is a little disappointed," Diane Petrecca said, because he wasn't really able to trick or treat with many of his friends. "Normally we go with a really large group."

"But let's face it," she said. "This wouldn't have happened otherwise."

"They did a great job," she said.

Ken November 10, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Great job everyone
y o y in this world November 11, 2012 at 12:03 AM
THIS WAS ONE OF THE BEST TIMES I HAD WITH MY GRANDDAUGHTER. SHE MAYBE YOUNG BUT WAS HAPPY TO TAKE HER OUT N GET SOMETHING . PERFECT IDEA. I HOPE IT CAN BE DONE AGAIN NEXT YEAR N ADD THE TOWNS AROUND. THIS IS THE SAFEST WAY TO GO. THE KIDS WONT BE COLD N IF IT IS RAINING THEY WONT GET WET.. PERFECT THANKS FOR ALL YOU DID.
Stephanie Hunter November 11, 2012 at 03:24 PM
This was a wonderful thing for all the kids. We r residence of Ocean Gate, n half our population is underwater, n had no power or heat, so most weren't even thinking about trick or treating, but more so about how to get water out of their homes, or where to buy gas for their generators. On behalf of all gators I would like to send the senserist thank you to all who made this small, but very special bit of normalcy for us all, especially the kids.
meimei November 14, 2012 at 06:33 AM
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