By Stephen Cohen, VHCA Communications Committee Member
It was a wonderful family experience. On October 26, the Virginia-Highland business district had its first-ever Candy Crawl. Families gathered at the Fire Station at 5:30 and set out to trick-or-treat, walking all the way down Virginia-Highland to St. Charles, stopping at businesses marked by orange balloons. Over 35 businesses participated.
The idea originated with Doria Roberts from Tipple and Rose, who had done something similar at her sandwich shop in East Atlanta. She was excited about its first-year success here in VaHi.
“Based on my past experience, this was a great turnout for the first year!” said Doria. “I heard several parents say something to the effect that this is what a neighborhood should feel like.”
There were a lot of unknowns coming in. How many would come? How could all the pedestrians be kept safe in rush hour? To that end, the Virginia-Highland Business Association asked the VaHi Civic Association to organize 6 crossing guards. The guards used safety vests and stop signs kindly provided by Joel Markwell, an Inman Middle School parent who coordinates their crossing guard program.
One of our crossing guards was Kay Stephenson. “I noticed several kids who were mesmerized by our big hand-held stop signs. They appeared to be pondering how that thing that is usually on a post ended up in a person’s hand!
“And there were smiles on the faces of many drivers, perhaps charmed by the children into not minding that their commute was being delayed. Several parents mentioned that this made a great dry run for Monday night to see what was working with costumes. One adorable told me, “I’m a raccoon, but I couldn’t wear the mask because it’s too itchy”!
Every participating business had two bags of candy donated by Sysco. And kids in costume even got to eat free at Atkins Park restaurant.
Truly, not only was this an evening of family fun, but it was an opportunity for parents to visit local stores they may never previously have been aware of.
“Everyone was so upbeat and the beautiful weather was definitely a plus,” said crossing guard volunteer Margaret Ross, who was stationed in Atkins Park. “Kristi, from The Warren, interacted with all the kids at her stop; they loved having their character recognized, and were quite polite. All in all, a wonderful neighborhood experience for the participants and onlookers alike. “
In fact, many business owners enjoyed it and talked with the parents & kids at their stops. Commented business owner Lynn DeWitt: “EVERYONE enjoyed this event! Kids loved the candy. Parents had a terrific time walking with their families, browsing the shops and restaurants. Stores were buzzing with business. Streets were crowded but safe. Atkins Park Tavern had happy and hungry customers for dinner. Let’s repeat this next Halloween.”
Concluded a very happy Doria: “Next year we hope to add costume contests (for kids, adults and pets) and maybe a pumpkin-carving contest.”
So if you missed the first-ever Virginia-Highland Candy Crawl, be on the lookout for the second one next year!