Some downtown businesses to skip handing out free treats during Front Royal event because of expense
By Kaitlin Mayhew -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL-- Costumed children will once again romp down East Main Street on Oct. 31 as a part of the Hometown Halloween event, but some downtown merchants say they won't participate this year, mostly because of cost.
This will mark the third year for the annual event that takes place from 6 to 9 p.m.
Barbara Dumire of Ole Timers Antiques on Main Street said she will not be participating in the event this year.
"I did it the last two years and it was very expensive," she said.
Hometown Halloween is organized by Downtown Front Royal Inc. which is completely run by volunteers, usually merchants who own shops downtown. Consequently, all the candy handed out at the event is purchased by the merchants themselves.
Dumire said she estimates she spent about $300 on candy last year.
She said she would consider participating again, but would like to see some other attractions included in the event as well, such as a parade or costume contest, so there's more of a draw than just the free candy.
"There's all kinds of things they can do other than just hand out candy," Dumire said.
Ann Arena of Gourmet Delights, also located downtown, said she won't be handing out candy at the event.
Although she said she understood that the event was good for children, keeping them safe and in a controlled environment, she wasn't prepared to make the investment this year.
"We did try it thinking it would promote the street and show people that we are here and have a lot of goods and services to offer," Arena said.
But she said that the event is centered more on the children picking up candy than their parents getting familiar with the downtown area.
Kathy Soranzo of Valley Finds was a part of Downtown Front Royal Inc. when the event started. She said the idea began with trying to get people who lived in the county to come downtown.
"We were expecting 200 to 500 kids," she said.
They got around 2,500.
"I had to run out three times for candy," she said, estimating she spent around $400 that first year. "We had no idea it was going to get so big, and we were happy about it."
She said the second year may have been particularly hard on merchants because it fell on a Sunday, whereas the first year the event was on a Saturday.
A lot of the stores on Main Street close on Sundays, so that left the brunt of the demand on those who did participate.
"I think next year we are going to have to get some sort of sponsorship to buy the candy," Soranzo said.
However, some Main Street shop owners, such as Sue Waller of Main Street Pawn, are excited to be a part of the event. She said they ended up spending more than they had wanted last year on candy, but that this year they are prepared.
Waller said she shopped around for the best deals on candy, finding them at Big Lots and Gabriel Brothers in Winchester.
"I think we've got it pretty well under control," she said.
Other merchants are not going to hand out the candy for similar reasons, but are planning to participate in other ways.
Christian and Rachel Failmezger of Vino E Formaggio said they are going to be open, and have a place for adults to come in and relax. They are also planning some sort of special fare, possibly similar to their usual tapas offerings, themed for Halloween.
Blue Ridge Hospice will be handing out Halloween-themed silly band bracelets that were donated by Wal-Mart.
East Main Street will be closed from Royal Avenue to Blue Ridge Avenue for the event, and the side streets that feed into East Main will also be closed. The roads will be closed as of 5 p.m.
Additional businesses and nonprofits not located on East Main will be provided space to set up booths and participate as well.
The gazebo parking lot will also be closed as of 3 p.m.