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Halloween’s Triumphant Return

Photo: Kendra Bobowick

Halloween was celebrated by residents of all ages this year, thanks to the return of seasonal weather following two storms that dampened the holiday in Newtown. On Main Street, a number of residents decorated their homes to welcome the hordes of costumed guests that were expected Thursday. The owners of The Balcony House at 34 Main turned their dwelling into Main Street Motel for the night.

A light rain misted over the area on Thursday, but after two years of severe storms, the weather was not going to stop determined trick-or-treaters from venturing out on Halloween this year.

Halloween had been all but cancelled in 2011 after Winter Storm Alfred dropped heavy, wet snow across the region and created dangerous settings for the autumn holiday. Last year it was Superstorm Sandy that diminished the season’s spirits, causing town officials to ask residents to wait until November 4 to send trick-of-treaters out.

By late afternoon this Halloween, however, Main Street was full of activity. Newtown Police had officers staged along the roadway, working to keep the rush hour traffic moving while also watching for the safety of pedestrians.

Younger costumed residents were out with their parents by 5 o’clock, determined to be seen in their costumes and collect as many treats as they could. Some were even spotted as early as 4:30, determined to beat rains that had been threatening all day.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of trick-or-treaters eventually swarmed into the center of town for a few hours. And while there were plenty of popular choices — this year including fans of Minecraft, Batman and sock monkeys, including at least one Reggae Sock Monkey — the most popular choice still seemed to be the classic: dozens of young girls dressed as a princess.

Longtime Main Street resident Harvey Pessin said he and wife Brid Craddock weren’t sure if there would be a Halloween crush this year.

“We weren’t sure if we were going to have Halloween this year, between the weather and our daughter not being home,” he said. With their daughter at college this year, they couple didn’t have the extra help to give out candy they had come to rely on in the past.

“It was Parents Night here,” he said with a laugh.

While Mr Pessin did not keep an exact count of how many children visited their home on Thursday, he did feel that it was a smaller crowd than in years past.

“I think there were less people,” he said. “I think the weather put a dampening on it.”

One thing he and his wife both noticed, he said Friday morning, was a move away from scary costumes this year.

“There were more Cinderellas and Dorothys, definitely,” he said. “We only saw two Brides of Frankensteins, and only one Frankenstein.

“In terms of people who make their own costumes, they were less gory, less ghoulish, which is I guess a good sign.”

For another Main Street resident, this year was the first time he was able to fully appreciate the phenomenon that is Halloween on Main Street.

Chris Spiro moved to Main Street last October, so he had a small collection of children visit when trick-or-treating was postponed following Superstorm Sandy. This year he and his family went all out, buying plenty of candy and decorating to the extreme.

“We had a ball last night,” he said “It’s a great thing. Newtown is so unique, between the Labor Day parade and Halloween, there are things that no other town has.”

He guessed that he and his daughter, who lives in the house next door, gave out candy to “between two and three thousand kids.”

Mr Spiro’s daughter lives at 34 Main Street, which had been transformed into “Main Street Motel” for the night.

Other homeowners along the popular corridor also seemed reenergized by the holiday, with houses turned into displays of creativity and a celebration of the Halloween season. The residents of 11 Main Street paid homage to the board game Candy Land with the walkway and front of their home, and 5-7 Main Street turned their dwelling into a tribute to the finalé of Grease, with areas of the wraparound porch on the two-family dwelling decorated to recall the carnival scene that closes that show.

Mother Nature seemed to listen to the sentiment carved into one pumpkin dropped off at 14 Main Street — and certainly the prayers of children and parents everywhere. The pumpkin had the words “No Storms!” carved into it, and its appearance brought many smiles and murmurs of agreement from those who found it within the display of nearly 200 pumpkins.

Mackenzie Page had arranged, with help from family and friends, the third annual Great Pumpkin Challenge presentation in the front yard of her family’s home. The challenge was issued a few weeks ago, with residents invited to carve or decorate a pumpkin, and then to drop it off to be included in a Halloween display. All pumpkins were lit with electric candles or holiday lights, and each pumpkin had been accompanied with a suggestion donation of $5. The 14-year-old had announced that all donations collected this year would be given to The Hole in The Wall Gang Camp.

Pumpkins of all sizes, many shapes and even a few different colors, ranging from very simple to elaborate decorations, filled the sturdy racks Thursday night. Countless trick-or-treaters took the time to check out the different designs, and many parents took photos of their children standing in front of the display.

In front of Edmond Town Hall it also looked like something out of a carnival, with games and displays set up by Grace Family Church in the courtyard. Nearby, other groups had tents set up along the sidewalk, including Newtown Kindness and Dr Baum’s office, where they also handed out candy and small items to children of all ages.

Further north on Main Street, Richard and Dorothy Mulligan did not offer candy this year. The retirees chose to keep their front lights off, and instead kept an eye on the proceedings from within Hillbrow, their historic home. Mr Mulligan reported the crowds “were very busy around 6 pm, and then from what I noticed, I think that by 7 or 7:30, things were quieting down already.”

Mr Mulligan also noticed something new this year. Instead of having a cruiser placed at the intersection of Main and Currituck Road, a police officer was instead positioned on Main Street at the top of Hanover Road.

“The car was right in front of the [Soldiers & Sailors] monument on Main Street, and people that were coming along the sidewalks, the cop was stopping them there and having them cross to the other side of the road in front of the monument,” said Mr Mulligan. He was surprised by that, he said.

“Very few people were coming past that spot,” he said. Having been the host of major Halloween displays in previous years, Mr Mulligan said he was glad he had not set up anything this year.

“Our neighbor across the street spent a lot of time putting up a ghost and all sorts of things in his year,” he said, “and I didn’t see a lot of kids over there. I don’t know why they did that this year, unless they were thinking that the Halloween — like the parade — sort of starts at the monument instead of Currituck.”

Newtown Police Sergeant Douglas Wisentaner said there were three patrol officers and one supervisor handling the pedestrian and vehicular traffic along Main Street this year, and it was a good night.

“There were no issues,” he said Friday morning.

Across town, he said, it was a “fairly quiet night” with “not that many calls for service.”

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