The celebration of Toms River's month-long NEA Big Read grant-funded community initiative came to a conclusion at the annual Toms River Halloween parade Oct. 31. Staff and students helped complete the Station Eleven float- and (per parade rules) marched separately with the walkers and bands.
The float led Parade Division B: Best Representation of Station Eleven. The division was described as such: As a culmination of the town’s first ever NEA Big Read, this division celebrates the themes of the novel Station Eleven, including post-apocalyptic costumers, Shakespeare, Hollywood, emergency preparedness, “Traveling Symphony,” the book’s connection to Superstorm Sandy five years later, and more. Costumes should be judged on creativeness and relevance to the book, Sandy, and NEA Big Read. This division is open to all K-12 students throughout Toms River, and will be preceded by a Station Eleven-inspired float.
The Station Eleven Division was strategically placed early so that students who may taking part in other parade divisions had the opportunity to do so. Toms River Fire Company No. 1 partnered with the district for Big Read.
Also partnering for this Big Read effort was Allied Building Products in Toms River, which donated float materials and provided a truck, flatbed, and driver for the event.
Toms River Schools’ TV21 televised (taped, not live) the parade, and was set up at the Judge's Stand in front of Ocean County Library.
The float was modeled after Station Eleven’s Traveling Symphony, and was titled “Symphony of Hope.” It contained musical instruments, Shakespearean elements, and recognized what was lost during Superstorm Sandy and how we’ve come since.