The Elm City got into the Halloween spirit this year, with dozens of stores hosting various eerie-sistible events over the weekend.
More than 1,000 children came to Broadway Island to a series of events co-hosted by the Shops at Yale and Shubert Theatre that included free candy, face painting, Halloween films and arts and crafts, according to the Shops at Yale Facebook page. The partnering institutions hosted a raffle in which winners were given gift cards to various stores. In addition, as a part of the event, numerous stores throughout the city opened its doors to trick-or-treaters — including Patagonia, Crepes Choupette, Moe’s Southwest Grill, GANT and the Book Trader Cafe.
“There was a line out the door pretty much all day,” said Mary McMillan, owner of New Haven’s location of Moe’s Southwest Grill. “[The event] was wonderful.”
Dwayne Ahern, a New Haven resident, thought the city did a great job of hosting the event, noting that his two children were “delighted” by the festivities — despite poor weather conditions over the weekend.
“I think having local shops host trick-or-treating, face painting and costume contests is such a fantastic idea,” Ahern said. “Even with the rain, all of the other kids and parents walking around just had the biggest smiles on their faces.”
Ahern said his children’s favorite activity was to watch artists during the pumpkin carving contest which took place at GANT.
While many shops participated in the Halloween festivities of the weekend, one store in particular had an additional reason to celebrate.
On Saturday, David Duda, owner of Book Trader Cafe, celebrated 20 years in New Haven with a Halloween costume contest. Anyone who visited the shop wearing a costume inspired by their favorite literary character or author received a $5 gift card, while the winner of the contest won a $100 gift card. Duda noted that anyone who came into the store that day also got to go home with a free book.
The Book Trader Cafe also participated in the trick-or-treating event on Sunday during which they had about 600 children come through the shop, according to Duda.
At the same time as the event on Broadway, the Whitney-Audubon Retail and Arts District coordinated a separate Halloween event for stores on the block of Whitney Avenue and Audubon Street. It was the first Halloween event the district has hosted.
Yale University Properties Director of Real Estate Asset Management and Marketing David DelVecchio said that the stores on Whitney and Audubon saw about 200 trick-or-treaters. He noted that the event was a great success, as it brought more people to the area.
“Many of our guests were unfamiliar with the district,” DelVecchio said. “We will definitely do [the Halloween event] again next year, because we love to show off this beautiful district.”
Kathy Riegelmann, owner of Katalina’s Bakery on Whitney Avenue, participated in the event for the first time. Riegelmann hosted a face painting station in her bakery, which she said helped attract a large number of people who had never come into her bakery before. She noted that the Halloween event really benefited the community because it brought more people into the arts district, which she said does not usually attract a lot of foot traffic.
“I just thought [the Halloween event] was such a great idea that did so much for community building,” Riegelmann told the News. “We had a good 150 kids and families come through the bakery, and it was just so much fun meeting so many families and seeing kids in their costumes.”
Inspired by the success of the Halloween event, Riegelmann plans to speak with event organizers to see if the city could host a similar event for the holiday season.
DelVecchio said that discussions regarding hosting a holiday event are underway, but noted that they intend on participating in Yale-China’s LunarFest event this February.
The Book Trader Cafe is located on 1140 Chapel St.
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