halloween 2011 5Classic goblins, licensed characters and some fanciful floats take over downtown Red Bank Sunday, when the Halloween Parade returns for its 68th annual edition. (Photo by John T.Ward. Click to enlarge.)

halloween 2011 3It’s an event in which “ghosts, goblins, cops, robbers and old cowhands make with the whoopee” — or so said the old Red Bank Register, when it reported on the borough’s very first Halloween Carnival and Parade back in 1948.

The colorful civic event has been fine-tuned considerably since then, having done away with a Saturday night community party and a march that passed through every neighborhood in town. But for the past few generations, the Sunday afternoon centerpiece of the seasonal celebration has staked its place among the area’s most hallo’d traditions. And this Sunday, the costumed characters, fire trucks, marching bands and fanciful hand-decorated floats promenade once more down Broad Street, as the Red Bank Halloween Parade returns for its 68th annual edition.

Presented by the parks and recreation department, the parade begins with lineup and costume judging at 1 p.m. at the intersection of East Bergen Place and South Street. Then at 2 pm, the revelers trace a joyously noisy route through the downtown business district, traveling north on Broad, turning west onto White Street, and arriving at the municipal parking lot for a celebration filled with kids’ activities, and prizes, with the first 500 children receiving a free goody bag.

Come early, dress up (there are prizes for best costumes by age, best pet costume, and best small group), decorate the kids’ strollers or simply trick-or-treat yourself to one of the borough’s most enduring (and endearingly nutty) local customs — a colorful connector of “old Red Bank” to the bustling borough of the 21st century.

The rain date is October 25, though the forecast of a “slight chance of showers” indicates it won’t be needed. For more info, or to register a float, call (732) 530-2782.