HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - Sunday's Fall Fest at Mary Mother of God Church was a non-stop kaleidoscope of color, activities, flea market finds, crafts, games and more - including a Halloween costume contest for kids and adults, with prizes donated by local businesses.
Halloween Costume Contest categories included Best Couple, Best Duo/Group, Most Original, Funniest and Cutest.
While 50 vendors were busy setting up their tables with seasonal crafts and decorations, Father John Rozembajgier, pastor of the church on South Triangle Road, was presiding at the annual "Blue Mass" indoors, onoring police and first responders. Inside the oarish center, a blood drive was being held. Outside the parish center, the Youth Group set up and supervised games and activities for the kids.
Johnny Lombardi, aka :"Gemini," a veteran comic, magician and ventriloquist who performs at nightclubs and casinos throughout the metropolitan area - and a parishioner - organized the Fall Fest with a committee of church members and organizations.
Fall Fest is an outgrowth of "Studio at the Hill," a children's show produced by Lombardi and local independent director and producer Caz Bielen, filmed in the basement of Mary Mother of God earlier this year. The episodes can be seen on Amazon with more virtual reality episodes planned later this year.
Bielen provided a few of the costume contest prizes, including full production of a one-minute film commercial with a value of $750 in addition to a second prize, transferring old 8 mm film to digital format. Other prizes included a 50-inch flat screen TV.
Lombardi and Father John were brainstorming late this summer, looking for a way to maintain the momentum of "Studio at the Hill,", according to the comedian, and the idea for the Fall Fest resulted.
"You know, people are still scared about coming out of their homes if they don't have to, but we thought we could take baby steps to get them back to the church, which for many is the center of their community," Lombardi said. "The whole neighborhood can help out the greater neighborhood.
"There's just so much negativity out there, people feeling trapped and isolated and depressed; I thought this could help to lift peoples' spirits," he added.