JERSEY SHORE — It’s that time of the year when summer has breathed its last breath, and shorts and T-shirts give way to sweaters and hats, while the vibrant greens of nature have changed into the browns and oranges of autumn. Pumpkins are in season and the sights and sounds of the Christmas holidays are on the horizon.
But first comes the spookier celebrations and an air of harvest — the time of the year when the members and parishioners of Crossroads Church host the Fall Festival at their Jersey Shore campus on Route 44.
Held last weekend, the church parking lot was filled to capacity with cars parking on the grass as sounds of Christian music played on large speakers for festival goers to hear.
Upon entering the grounds, hay bales were gathered with a large sign declaring “Welcome” for anyone in attendance. The property surrounding the church building was filled with canopies, tents and tarps hosting vendors, crafts and other goodies along with inflatable rides.
Lines formed at the large inflatable slide, while prizes were awarded to winners of games of chance and skill while families walked around carrying food and pumpkins. Simple booths were set up dedicated to tossing footballs, catching goldfish and a variety of foods as the smell of popcorn filled the air.
“This is one of the largest outreaches we do every year,” Associate Pastor Jason Borowicz said. He added that it costs attendees nothing. “We do this all for free and the church wants nothing in return.”
It seems the public is grateful for it because Borowicz expected that between 2,000 and 2,500 would attend the event.
“Many of these people are bogged down with life and having an event like this allows them to connect with their families,” Borowicz said. “This allows families to get out and have a lot of fun.”
He said that many people in the church and community donated food, prizes, money and time to help put on the event. One of those members, Aprie Brennan, said she was thrilled to be a part of the festival. She explained the persons she encountered were having a great time.
“This is an awesome thing the church does every year,” Brennan said. “We get lots of ‘thank yous’ for it.”
Tiffany Bowman, who has attended Crossroads for the last year, said this was her first year as a volunteer.
“It really gives a sense of community and family,” Bowman said.
Many of the festival goers said it was interesting to see a local church be able to host the festival event.
Katie Wert, who attended the festival with her family, said the event shows the compassionate side of Crossroads Church.
“It is a great event for the community to see what Crossroads Church is about,” Wert said.