Remember when you were a child and there was that “must-go-to” house in the neighborhood on Halloween – either because the decorations were amazing or the homeowners gave out great candy?  For some of us, there was also the lure of getting a rare peek inside fabulously designed homes. 

Since 2000, Jill Potter’s Sunset Avenue home has been the “it” house for this generation of Asbury Park trick-or-treaters.  Each year, Jill and her friends – also chairperson of the Asbury Park Marketing Fund – go all-out to build the hugest, most fantastic and interactive Halloween experience. 

“I do this for one reason – the kids in Asbury Park and their families,” said Jill.  “I love Halloween and it’s my way of giving back to a town that has given me so much.”

This year’s theme was “killer klowns.” 

“We met and planned and texted and emailed,” said Jill.  “We worked for weeks on costumes, designs, props, scenes and lighting.” 

As dusk turned into Halloween night last Friday, more than three-hundred trick-or-treaters lined up in front of the huge tent on Jill’s front lawn to attend the Killer Klown Carnival.  

The kids entered the big top greeted by a concession clown selling “Bloody Mary’s,” “popcorn eyes” and “French fingers.”

Squealing through the maze of scary scenes, trick-or-treaters were spooked by a “really bad knife thrower looking for a new assistant,” then a room where they each donned 3-D glasses and gazed at a neon galaxy while dodging crazed Ninjas. 

Next was the “march of the identicals” – a scene where the children walked in between two rows of four look-alike clowns never knowing which clown was going to lunge at them from the slithering fog, followed by the “crazed cotton candy maker” looking for “special” costumed-kid ingredients for the next batch of cotton candy. 

Cautiously moving towards the finale – clutching friends or guardians – the children were handed their fortune in the form of a candy bar by Zoltar. 

“It was really, really, really cool and scary,” said trick-or-treating Pillsbury Dough Girl, Katie Scullay, 11. 

Jill Potter and her 27 volunteers – in addition to Asbury Park’s Citizens on Patrol – radiated excitement, over the excitement of their ghostly guests.  It was just wonderful to see. 

“I saw kids transformed from toughies to playful twelve or thirteen year-olds,” said Jill.  “I get such a kick out of watching how much they really enjoy the Halloween experience we created.”

Another spirited Halloween in town. 

Briefly:  “Free to Be…You and Me” (Running Press) by Marlo Thomas and Friends – is commemorating its 35th Anniversary with an updated edition featuring new stories and a CD. 

The New York Times bestseller – which encourages everyone to “move the world to a better place” –  brilliantly celebrates diversity; dispels stereotypes and myths about gender and race; and challenges expectations that often inhibit people’s freedoms to be who they want to be. 

And, huge hugs to Taka and company for a fantastic birthday celebration at his restaurant last Saturday night.  That place is a consistent party pleaser – literally – with a great-looking crowd.