Nothing draws a crowd like free candy, or at least that’s what the city of Lawrence and downtown businesses are banking on.
Roger Steinbrock, the city’s parks and recreation marketing supervisor, provided a few Halloween safety tips:
• Look at the costumes and make sure children can see out of them. Use makeup instead of masks, which can obstruct vision.
• Trick-or-treat in neighborhoods you are familiar with.
• Use a flashlight.
• Make sure candy is wrapped or sealed.
• Go through all candy before allowing children to eat it.
Businesses along Massachusetts Street will open their doors on Halloween night to supply hordes of zombies, vampires, princesses, celebrities and cartoon characters come to life, among others, with candy. The Downtown Lawrence Halloween Trick-or-Treat runs 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“It’s quite the spectacle,” said Cathy Hamilton, director of Downtown Lawrence Inc. “These merchants don’t hold back and spend a lot on candy.”
Jeremy Furse, owner of Britches Clothing Co., 843 Massachusetts, who started the event in 1985, said the store will have more than 5,000 pieces of candy to hand out.
“We have spent $500 on candy this year, and I don’t think it will last,” he said. Furse added the event has grown at a “mind-boggling” rate starting from humble beginnings of 300 to 400 trick-or-treaters.
“Now it’s literally thousands. I would say it’s as close to Sidewalk Sale traffic as it gets,” he said.
As successful as the event is today, it took a door-to-door effort from Furse to persuade downtown merchants to participate in handing out candy.
But as the event slowly began to catch on, “everyone wanted to be part of it,” he said.
Furse had two motivations for starting the downtown event, the most important was keeping kids safe.
“No store was going to give out tainted candy,” he said.
His other motivation was business. Apparently giving out thousands of pieces of candy makes for some pretty good public relations.
“It’s to bring people to town that haven’t been there,” he said. “Maybe someone remembers us or our store next time. You try to put your best foot forward.”
Roger Steinbrock, the city’s parks and recreation marketing supervisor, said the city suggests local residents turn their porch lights on between 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for trick-or-treaters. The city recommends that trick-or-treating be wrapped up by 8:30 p.m. to ensure everyone’s safety.
“Once it gets past the bewitching hour, the little goblins should be home,” he said.