The coronavirus pandemic has claimed one of its first major fall events: the annual Toms River Halloween Parade.

The parade was called off because the risk of COVID-19 "is still at a high with the magnitude of people that crowd in the downtown area," according to a statement on the Facebook page of Toms River Fire Department Co. 1, which organizes the parade every year.

Organizers on the parade website say 100,000 people attend the parade every year. They also claim Guinness Book of World Records has called it the second largest in the world, although a spokeswoman for the company on Friday could find no such record in their database.

The parade is always open to anyone who wants to march with no pre-registration.

Organizers said it is only the third time the parade has been canceled. The other times being during the Great Depression and in 2012 following Superstorm Sandy.

Most St. Patrick's Day, Memorial Day and Fourth of July parades were cancelled in New Jersey because executive orders from Gov. Phil Murphy limiting the number of people who can be at an outdoor gathering. The current cap is 500.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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