HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - Sunday's Fall Fest at Mary Mother of God church is all about kids, family and the neighborhood, featuring a Halloween Costume contest with prizes in several categories, a food truck and ice cream truck, a trackless train ride and bounce house for kids, games and crafts for the kids, a pumpkin patch and a sold-out flea market with 50 vendors.
Free and open to the public, the Fall Fest begins at 11 a.m. and will be open until 5 p.m.
Visitors are asked to please observe all COVID-19 protocols, including social distancing and wearing a mask.
The 11:30 a.m. "Blue Mass" is dedicated to police. For those who prefer, the mass will be live streamed on radio at 104 FM if you choose to remain in your vehicle in the parking lot.
Radio personality Steve Trevelise of 101.5 FM in Trenton is special guest, invited by fellow comedian and organizer of the Fall Fest, Johnny Lombardi, aka :"Gemini," a veteran comic, magician and ventriloquist who performs at nightclubs and casinos throughout the metropolitan area.
Separate from the Fall Fest outdoor activities, a center for blood donations will be open in the church gymnasium.
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 is offering a few of the 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.
There's more. A 50-inch flat screen TV is the grand prize in the adult costume contest.
Father John Rozembajger, pastor of the church, is a big fan of "Studio at the Hill," grateful for the outreach and success of the shows in providing a sense of community for parish members who like everyone else, have had their routines upended by the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the gift prizes will be a dinner with Father John at an area restaurant.
Lombardi and Father John were brainstorming late this summer, looking for a way to maintain the momentum, according to the comedian, and the idea for the Fall Fest resulted.
Lombardi reached out to the church community and assembled a team of volunteers to help organize the Fall Fest.
"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.
"Get out, get out, do something," Lombardi added. "This is something for the whole family to enjoy.
"People have been cleaning out their houses all day; what are they doing with that stuff? They're going to bring it here, make a little money for themselves, they're going to talk with the neighbors and realize that we're all in the same boat," Lombardi said.
"There's just so much negativity out there, people feeling trapped and isolated and depressed; I thought this could help to lift peoples' spirits."
Halloween Costume Contest categories include Best Couple, Best Duo/Group, Most Original, Funniest and Cutest.
Volunteers are also needed to help.
Call the Mary Mother of God parish office for information at (908) 874-3220.