MONTVILLE, NJ – Towaco held a party, and all of Montville was invited.

The Towaco Civic Association hosted its third annual ShopHop Dec. 7, with treats, photo ops, horse-drawn wagon rides and fun for every age in the Towaco section of Montville. Businesses, the fire department and Montville United Methodist Church welcomed visitors from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. for the party-like atmosphere, as a DJ located near Sundaes Ice Cream Parlor spun tunes.

Over at the church, parishioners and Pastor Donald Kirschner were playing Christmas carols and inviting kids to sing along, Karaoke style.

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TAPinto Montville bumped into the Bowan family outside the church on the sunny Saturday, and patriarch William said they had lived in Towaco for 12 years but this was the first year they were participating.

“We’re enjoying it – it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “The hot chocolate is great. I was in some stores I haven’t been in before.”

His wife Kathleen said, “We enjoyed singing carols in the church and the hot cider and cookies.”

At Century 21 The Crossing, Summer Failla and Megan Lavenburg were doling out cookies and accepting votes on the very impressive gingerbread creations that had been entered into their contest.

“For our first year doing the gingerbread contest, we had both adults and kids join in on the fun of creating their gingerbread displays,” Failla said. “Our office was busy all day with families coming to take a look and cast their votes. We hope this contest continues to build each year.”

At Blue Foundry Bank, Miss Northern New Jersey Veronica Tullo was conducting a toy drive for Children’s Miracle Network, and guiding kids as they painted ornaments. Branch Manager Joanne Lopez and Assistant Branch Manager Gwendolyn Hodge were guiding kids towards finding “Towaco Teddy,” a game common to many of the businesses, upon which the kids received a small treat.

“The kids have been having such a good time,” Lopez said. “We’ll definitely do this again next year.”

Other games and activities included sparkling tattoos, free coupons, gifts and discounts given out at some businesses, and baked treats given out at several businesses. Each business had a game card available that was like a scavenger hunt; when visitors went to five businesses and received a sticker on the game card, they could enter the card into a drawing held by the Towaco Civic Association for prizes. There were additional drawings for each additional five businesses visited, and a bonus ticket was issued for visiting all 23 participating organizations on the card.

Tiffany brought her daughter to Charlotte’s Web, who searched for Towaco Teddy in the store. Young Bella said she had found about four out of the five teddies she had searched for. But her favorite place to visit, she said, was Bliss Salon. Why?

“They had a lot of candy,” she enthused.

The Children’s Miracle Network toy drive at Blue Foundry Bank will continue until Dec 15.

The Towaco Civic Association would like to thank participants 900 Degrees, Asian Kawa, Bliss Salon, Blue Foundry Bank, Bollo Salon, Century 21 The Crossing, Charlotte’s Web Towaco, Fortune City, Fred Astaire Dance Studios, Landauer Café, Montville United Methodist Church, Once & Again Consignment, Pasquale’s Italian Deli, Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, RE/MAX Neighborhood Properties, Red Barn Restaurant, S3R, Schroth Jewelers, Snap Fitness, Stonybrook Realty, Sundae’s Ice Cream Parlor, The Village Market, and the Towaco Volunteer Fire Department, the two Towaco Teddies, and the Montville Township Police Department for safely crossing shoppers.

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