The second reincarnation will share the spotlight with another Halloween event – the town-sponsored Trunk-or-Treat – as the two “complimentary events” will give out candy to children on Halloween night, Oct. 31, in the Thread City.
Lynn Duval, a local business owner who started the Main Street event 20 years ago, said she has gotten 29 organizations or businesses to sign on, including Design Center East, the Willimantic Elks Club and the Windham Democratic Town Committee.
Duval said she wanted the event to continue because it provides a fun and safe environment for children to trick-or-treat.
“It’s like going to grandma’s,” she said, adding parents and children both love the event.
Duval said the low participation level the last two years has been because Halloween has been on a Saturday and Sunday, when some businesses are closed. Halloween this year is on a Monday.
“That’s why participation has been down,” she said.
The other issue was businesses didn’t like doing it because people were just coming to take the candy and not patronizing the establishment, according to town and local business officials.
After years of being organized by the Chamber of Commerce Inc., Windham Region, the Main Street event was run by Windham’s recreation department in recent years.
Duval is organizing this latest Main Street trick-or-treat venture on her own.
She said when she started the event, the concept wasn’t for people to shop on Halloween, but to raise awareness for businesses and for people to come back.
“Halloween is not a shopping night,” she said.
Duval said when she found out the event had been canceled or changed, she made phone calls to revive the event.
She said people’s reaction has been, “‘I don’t understand why it’s canceled.’” “It’s just a good event,” Duval said.
Trick-or-Treat on Main Street will take place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., while Trunk-or-Treat – sponsored by the town’s recreation department – will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. at Jillson Square.
While the Trick-or-Treat on Main Street event is back on, Windham Town Manager Neal Beets has set performance standards for both events. He said he’s looking for at least 20 distribution points from businesses or other groups (not town staffed) to show there’s community support.
For example, Beets said, in the past if there were six distribution points, five were staffed by the town.
This time, he’s looking for outside participation.
“I’m hopeful they’ll be complimentary, but we’ll see,” Beets said.
But, Beets added, “more events are better than fewer events.”
For children, however, Beets said they can take advantage of the situation and enjoy the opportunity for more candy.
“Nothing’s better than safe and lots of candy,” he said.
Meanwhile, Windham Recreation Director Tara Risley is proceeding with her department’s Trunk-or-Treat.
Risley said people can still call and register with the recreation department to participate and decorate their vehicles and give out candy.
Risley said the intent was never to cancel any event, but to come up with an alternative event because many believed Trick-or-Treat on Main Street had run its course due to the lack of business participation.
Also, when recreation department officials spoke with downtown businesses in preparation for Halloween, including Trick-or-Treat on Main Street, business owners gave them “resounding ‘Nos.’” However, Risley said she’s fine that a group of people wanted to get together and revive Trick-or-Treat on Main Street.
“I guess more is better than none,” she said.
Risley said they would promote both events because they’re good for the children and, as long as the children have fun and get candy, “that’s the main thing.”
She also touched on the previous cancellation of Trick-or-Treat on Main Street and the offering of an alternative event.
“Sometimes it’s just time to do something different,” she said.
Risley said there are fewer businesses downtown and it’s difficult for businesses to spare the time and money to purchase 1,000 pieces of candy.
“I think it has lost its luster,” she said this morning.
The Trunk-or-Treat event will be Oct. 31 from 5 to 7 p.m. for participants, while those decorating vehicles and giving out candy will line up and get set up ahead of time – 3 p.m. – with judging taking place around 4 p.m.
The Trick-or-Treat Flashlight Egg Hunt will also still take place, as the popular event will start at 7 p.m.
Those interested in Trunk-or-Treat can register and provide their vehicle information with the recreation department at (860) 465- 3046. Also, those interested in participating in Trick-or-Treat on Main Street should call Duval at (860) 428-7573.
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