By Donald Wittkowski
No doubt they’ll be squeezing out gobs of toothpaste at the Morton house.
Brothers Wesley and Parker Morton looked inside their Halloween candy bags and smiled at all the goodies they had collected Saturday while trick-or-treating in downtown Ocean City.
“We have a lot of teeth-brushing to do tonight,” their mother, Victoria Morton, of Ocean City, said laughing.
By the looks of things, hundreds of other costumed children who loaded up their candy bags with chocolate bars and other sweet treats will be giving their toothbrushes a vigorous workout, too.
Asbury Avenue, the heart of the downtown shopping district, turned into a child’s fantasyland Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. – almost every store essentially became a candy store. All the kids had to do was to stop at a store, open their bags and wait for the merchants to toss in the free candy.
“It’s going good,” Abby Austin, a 9-year-old from Somers Point who was dressed up as a killer clown, said of the candy-collecting spree.
“I love it,” added Abby’s friend, Alyssa Watson, 8, of Ocean City, who was wearing a police officer’s costume.
Even though Halloween doesn’t officially arrive until Tuesday, the kids got in a bonus day of trick-or-treating Saturday during what has become a popular tradition among downtown shopkeepers on Asbury Avenue between Sixth and 11th streets.
“This is a family town. This is the No. 1 town for being family-friendly,” explained Yianni Siganos, owner of Yianni’s Café. “It’s nice to see so many kids around.”
Standing in front of his Asbury Avenue restaurant, Siganos was busy doling out candy from a plastic pumpkin.
Yianni’s Café was one of the stops for Wesley and Parker Morton. Wesley, 10, wore a paper pumpkin over his head as his costume, while 5-year-old Parker was dressed as Leonardo from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” comics fame.
Their mother, Victoria Morton, the one who stressed the importance of teeth-cleaning, noted that her sons would not be eating so much candy on one day.
“No, we make it last until Christmas,” she said. “They’ll have a little bit of it for Halloween, but then they’ll have to do chores for the rest of it.”
Clarissa Todd, 10, and her 9-year-old brother, J.J., were also hauling in the candy. Clarissa was dressed as a Broadway dancer, while J.J. was costumed as the maniacal Jason Voorhees from the “Friday the 13th” horror movie series.
“We did the Halloween parade and now we’re back for some trick-or-treating,” said Clarissa and J.J.’s mother, Camille Talamini, of Ocean City. “On Halloween, we’ll have to sort out all of this candy and then eat it.”
Ocean City’s Halloween parade, celebrating its 70th year, attracted thousands of people to Asbury Avenue on Thursday night. Swarms of ghosts, goblins, ghouls and other spooky creatures descended on Asbury again on Saturday for the trick-or-treating.
Not all of them were children. Some of the shopkeepers and their employees also got into the Halloween spirit by wearing costumes.
Stevie Popielarski, the manager of Golden Buddha Yoga on Asbury Avenue, had her face painted blue for her costume as the Hindu Goddess Kali. In addition to giving candy to the children, she was handing out promotional literature to the adults for free yoga classes.
“This is fun,” Popielarski said during a short break from the waves of Halloweeners. “I’m an artist and a craftsman by trade, so this is a way of doing something different from the norm.”
Ione Talese, owner of Artisan Body Products on Asbury Avenue, dressed up as a witch, topping off her outfit with a big, pointy black hat. Tabitha Stauffer, an Artisan employee, wore an “Alice in Wonderland” costume while handing out candy in front of the store.
Talese said the day of trick-or-treating normally doesn’t generate much business for the shopkeepers. She characterized it as more of a day of “goodwill.”
“Hopefully, they’ll come back again and see us for the holidays,” Talese said.