My hometown is actually home to the 2nd largest Halloween Parade according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
It’s so big, in fact, that folks who call Toms River, NJ home actually trick-or-treat the day before Halloween. Because on the 31st, everyone is at the parade. There would literally be nobody to answer the door when you tried to get your candy.
2016 marks the 78th annual Toms River Halloween Parade (we’ve only missed one year, due to Hurricane Sandy, and the parade route being literally under water), and I’m excited to be able to get to see it after living in Baltimore for the past 10 Halloweens (and being busy with another big Halloween parade that happened there, ironically).
In high school I was always a part of the Toms River parade, thanks to the yearly mandatory participation of the marching bands/colorguards in the area. And even though waiting around in a shopping plaza parking lot for hours in the freezing cold waiting for our turn to march was a drag, I always loved actually being a part of it.
Here’s the thing. The parade has lots of marching bands and performers. Loads of incredible floats and handmade costumes. And a TON of everyday folks, in their store-bought Party City costumes, marching in the parade.
And you know what? They are proud as shit. They are jazzed out of their fucking minds to be walking down the street with their mass produced dog costume. Or super hero mask. Or witch hat.
That’s the thing that I love about it most.
I’m a huge sucker for intricate and detailed handmade costumes/floats/puppets, but I’m an even bigger sucker for having a space where folks feel like they can be a part of the fun stuff, not matter where they fall on the costume-creating spectrum.
Having a space where you can just do you, and folks will cheer you on regardless, is incredible.
I offer up this anecdote as a reminder to just be you. Even if you feel like you’re not a good enough you yet (spoiler alert: you are good enough right now, period.) just be 100% yourself.
I know sometimes that feels like the most challenging thing in the universe, but just know that there will always be someone to cheer you on.
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