How Social Networking Saved Halloween in Millburn

Snow didn't put off Trick or Treaters in South Mountain
Work Moms is helping get the word out about ongoing Halloween! Another bout of trick or treating is scheduled to start today in the Glenwood section at 4 pm, by the Brookhaven Association.

Neighboring towns of Livingston, Chatham, Madison and New Providence are also trick or treating today. Kids must be wishing for power outages every year! Sure you can fritter away too much time playing online, discussing this or that instead of taking action. But it can also be a tremendous resource. The Working Mothers Network of Millburn & Short Hills is a networking group that shares information you can’t always get elsewhere: which handyman will really show up; is there a good painter; and, lately, who has power.

This year, the group saved Halloween. Where many towns cancelled trick-or-treating due to fallen wires and dangerous weather, Millburn ultimately decided not to. They cancelled the evening parade, but otherwise it went on as usual.

On the Working Mothers Network (also known as “Work Moms”), people posted about what to do, debating whether it would be a good idea to move Halloween. Then someone in the South Mountain neighborhood posted that the neighborhood was safe, and there was she power, and candy. Why not bring children here?

On the streets in South Mountain, minivans parked and let out groups of kids, carpooling to the good stuff. Bernard Zenn, of Oval Road, said, “last year we had 2-3 kids. There were lines.” He’s lived there for 50 years, and never seen anything like it.

“It didn’t occur to me there would be a traffic jam; I’ve never seen that before. There were vans parked all over the street,” said Ruth Novick, of Undercliff Road (in South Mountain). The carpooling to the candy also meant even groups of slightly older kids often had a parent or two along.

But it was about more than candy. Novick explains, “we got hit really hard during Irene. We didn’t have power for a week, and the community was really wonderful at offering their homes for charging devices, taking showers, somebody even offered me their home for a few days because they were going away. I thought, ‘you were here for us, we want to be there for you.'”

She posted that “we’d love to see your children,” and that if you have candy you’re not using, please bring it to help meet the demand. Midway through the day posts went up saying “we’re running out of candy! Please bring more!” Her daughter, in 7th grade, trick-or-treated in the Wyoming area (where there also was power); her son in 10th grade helped give candy out. It was a two person operation as the doorbells chimed and chimed.

Zenn recalls “By the end, we had five pieces of candy for three children!” A senior citizen, he, like those not on the Network, were surprised by the influx of little ghouls and goblins, but happy to see them.

They Came in Groups

Lise Chapman, of Short Hills, is using the Work Moms group to organize help for flood victims in Patterson. “These parents, they are plugged in. If you need a doctor, or need to sell something, these are the best, authentic, real people. We are all connected but we don’t know each other. These people reached out to the whole town, saying, we have candy, we want you here. There is no struture or board. It’s really a new kind of social network. The power of this is unbelievable.”

Novick says “It was wonderful to open our community to kids, and a nice community day.”

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