What began as an average march Monday took a turn for the surreal at just after 10 a.m. when word of an armed gunman in the woods near Hackettstown High school triggered a lockdown.
Parents were not informed of the possible threat by the school, but rather from phone calls and text messages from their children.
As the late morning turned into afternoon, more and more parents assembled outside the barricades, mingling with a growing number of police and media.
Each text or phone call caused a flurry of activity as students complained of hunger, the lack of a bathroom break and of underlying fear.
But despite all the reports led to an unfounded claim. After an exhaustive search that included a helicopter and a canine unit no suspect or weapon was found. When the lockdown was lifted after 2 p.m., a caravan of cars and buses lined up to liberate the students from their temporary Alcatraz.
The relief from both students and parents was palpable.
So a blustery Monday in March may have turned out to be just that. Although for anyone in Hackettstown this morning, few would still call it average.