WESTBROOK – After a one-year hiatus, the Westbrook Chamber of Commerce and local businesses are gearing up for an annual Halloween tradition here in the Paper City.
“Halloween on Main Street” will shut down a portion of Main Street between Spring Street and Mechanic Street from 4:30-6 p.m. Friday, opening up the street to trick-or-treaters and their parents. The street itself will be closed at around 4:15 p.m., with traffic being able to get around the area on William Clarke Drive.
Last year, the event was held at the Westbrook Community Center, mostly out of concern for traffic, according to Dr. Warren Lain, the chamber’s president.
“The main obstruction last year was construction on William Clarke (Drive),” Lain said.
This year, the free event is returning to Main Street. On its Facebook page, the chamber describes the event as featuring a DJ and a Haunted House at Mission Possible Teen Center, along with a costume contest for ages ranging from 2-14 years.
Meanwhile, the community center will still be holding an event immediately afterward, from 6-8:30 p.m. Described as “Family ‘Fright’ Night,” the event, which is also free to the public, will offer games, a “Haunted Walk,” dance, outdoor bonfire at the baseball field, and other events.
On Tuesday afternoon, some local business owners were looking forward to the Main Street event. Lisa Anderson, the manager of Moonlight Cleaners at 823 Main St., said she will definitely be participating.
“We do it every year,” she said. “It’s cool.”
Anderson said she didn’t know just how many kids would stop by, but she said she spent $100 on candy this year, like she does every year, and expects to run out before the night is over.
“It’s incredible the amount of kids we get here,” she said.
Rose Novick, co-owner of Hub Furniture at 900 Main St., is also ready to see the local kids.
“We always participate,” she said. “We’re very happy to have the kids.”
For Novick, she said, it’s about being part of the community.
“We have a good time and (see) a lot of people that we know, because we’ve been here a long time,” she said.
Not every business is welcoming the tradition back, however. For Stacy Darkis, owner of Studio 59 Pilates Fitness, at 861 Main St., Friday’s event will be more trick than treat.
“It does nothing for my business,” she said. “It slows me down. I have to cancel classes.”
Being right in the middle of the event, she said, makes it nearly impossible for her customers to get in, so she simply plans to close early on Friday. She added that she had nothing against a fun event for kids, she just can’t afford to participate.
“I love kids,” she said. “I have some of my own, but it shuts down the street, and it drives my business away.”
Next door, at Tropical Sun Tanning, owner Calley Warren plans to close early on Friday, too. Like Darkis, Warren said there is no way customers can get to her business, and most parents who come to visit with their children will not be buying anything while there.
“I’ve contemplated closing (early) years ago, because it costs me more money to be here,” she said.
Like Darkis, Warren said she has nothing against children having fun, particularly the younger kids, but with a growing number of teenagers participating, she said, the annual event isn’t what it once was.
“It’s not fun for the younger kids anymore,” she said.
Lain acknowledged that there are always businesses who suffer ill effects from the event every year, but the positives tend to outweigh the negatives.
“We’ve had very limited persons who didn’t want it to happen,” he said. “I think the outcome is successful.”