________Sign up for free daily updates on Ocean City news. Crowds line Asbury Avenue on Thursday evening for the 68th annual Halloween Parade in Ocean City, NJThousands of spectators lined Asbury Avenue on a dry and mild October evening for the 68th annual Halloween Parade.The Ocean City Exchange Club has sponsored the event since its inception in 1947.Exchange Club member Bill Culp said the field of participants was “big,” and for more than an hour, a procession of costumed characters competed for prizes, amid bands, floats and other parade entries.The procession traveled down Asbury Avenue from Sixth Street to 11th Street.One tradition of the parade — the throwing of candy from parade entries to spectators — was curtailed this year due to safety concerns related to children dashing out into the parade route. Parade participants were allowed to hand out candy without tossing out.An Ocean City Fire Department float was the final entry in the parade.Boy Scouts collected canned and dried food donations for the Ocean City Ecumenical Council Food Cupboard.Halloween events in Ocean City continue with the following: THIRD ANNUAL HALLOWEEN COSTUME PARTY: The gala will be hosted by the Ocean City Theatre company, 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30, at the Ocean City Yacht Club, Bay Avenue and Battersea Rd. Tickets are $75. Party will feature food, refreshments, dancing and prizes in the following categories: best business group, over-all best group, best organization/non profit group, scariest individual, most original individual, most elegant/classy individual, most creative individual, best couple/duo, over-all best male, over-all best female, best black/orange costume and least creative. For tickets, visit oceancitytheatrecompany.com or call (609) 398-1118. RSVP in advance required. For ages 21 and over.TRICK-OR-TREAT IN DOWNTOWN OCEAN CITY: Participating stores will welcome trick-or-treaters 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, on Asbury Avenue between Sixth Street and 11th Street. Sponsored by the Downtown Merchants Association.CITYWIDE TRICK-OR-TREATING: Traditional Halloween trick-or-treating hours will be Oct. 31 from 5 to 8 p.m. Children should be accompanied by adults and wear fire proof costumes that provide good visibility.