EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Families approach the park marking the beginning of the scavenger hunt. Kids don costumes: an Elsa walks past as a set of anthropomorphic Emojis file out to the checkpoint desk. Despite current pandemic circumstances, the Halloween spirit lingers in the air as characters run up to receive their prizes, parents trekking in tow.
The East Brunswick Department of Recreation and Parks hosted on Saturday a local Halloween scavenger hunt for preregistered families. Families were tasked with deciphering cryptic clues to travel to locations over the course of five parks in town. Each park was stationed with staff to provide a goody bag of candy as well as the next clue.
Dressed in a, East Brunswick bear suit, Rick Perrine greeted children approaching the third checkpoint at Butterfly Park. A staff member took Polaroid pictures as he posed alongside children, many shying away from this humanlike bear.
Perrine, one of the organizers of this event, said that there were a lot of logistics involved in preparing for social distancing. However, the biggest challenge he and his co-organizer Michael Reisner, he said, was fear for the weather.
The Department of Recreation has, in fact, a history providing family events in the face of natural adversities. “Usually the schools end up doing different activities for Halloween,” said Kim Volkman, a staff member stationed at Heavenly Farms. “This was our way of making it up for the kids.”
Families echo expressions of excitement for the hunt planned ahead. The Liu family, their daughter dressed in a black cat costume, say that they’re “having fun” completing the tasks set out for them. The Lee family, too, mimics this attitude. “It’s a nice reminder that things haven’t really changed, only thing different is the masks,” they say, their ninja children bouncing around them.
There’s no mistake that even in current conditions, this event marks one of many in a rapidly shifting environment. But it brings good news as the pandemic is not enough to triumph over holiday festivity.