SOUTH ORANGE, NJ—Families and children decked out in their Halloween best filled Spiotta Park from 4-6 p.m. on Friday for the Halloween Festival.

After a few announcements from Wanda the Giant Witch, the costume contest started.

Crowds of children and parents lined the park’s perimeter waiting for a chance to show off their costumes.

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Matt Glass, chairman of the Village Center Alliance, which produced the event, announced each costume and its wearer.

“It’s amazing how big our contest gets each year,” he said.

Although he could not provide an exact number, Glass said South Orange has hosted its annual Halloween Festival for approximately five years.

Seth and Ann Leeb, South Orange residents who dressed as firefighters with their daughter, Mora, dressed as their Dalmatian, said this was their fifth year attending the festival.

“(This festival) is a great family activity,” Seth Leeb said. “It’s like going to the pool—you get to interact with other members of the community.”

The Halloween Festival is a great opportunity for South Orange to show off all it has to offer, according to Bob Zuckerman, executive director of the Village Center Alliance and one of the judges for the costume contest.

“This (event) builds community spirit and brings hundreds of families to the village center,” he said.

After the costume contest, businesses set up tables on the sidewalks of South Orange Avenue, waiting for eager trick-or-treaters to arrive, ready to fill their bags with sweets and goodies.

“This (method) is a safer alternative to trick-or-treating (and) a great way to meet new people in the community,” said Lateefah Wooten, who works in South Orange and brought her whole family to the festival.

The reporter is a student participating in a hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.