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Wednesday, October 28 News

Westport creates new Halloween event for families during COVID

WESTPORT — A new festival has popped up to help families celebrate Halloween during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association will be hosting Family Pumpkin Fest event on Oct. 25, replacing the annual Halloween parade and trick-or-treating at Town Hall. The town canceled those events because they didn’t meet current coronavirus gathering restrictions.

The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the temporary closure of Main Street from its intersection at Post Road East to the intersection at Elm Street for the festival at its meeting Wednesday.

“This obviously is something we put together to replace the parade and other activities, and are further efforts to show that we can do a safe and welcoming activity and live within current guidelines,” Randy Herbertson, president of the Westport Downtown Merchants Association, said at the meeting.

The event will be held on from noon to 5:30 p.m. and the closure will take place that day from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Families must register through the association’s website.

Jacqui Bidgood, events director at the Downtown Merchants Association, said families who register for the event will be provided with pumpkins and art decorating materials.

“We’re inviting them to wear costume,” she said. “They basically have an hour time frame to have fun decorating their pumpkins.”

Want to go?

Visit http://www.westportdma.com/halloween-pumpkinfest to register for the Pumpkin Fest event.

She said families will also be able to take home a bag of orchard apples provided by Camp Playland of New Canaan.

Bidgood said the original plan was to have 25 families, but after an overwhelming response to one media post they increased the limit to around 100 families.

“We can expand up to 30 tables and still be under the maximum capacity for outdoor events in phase 3 right now,” she said, adding tables will be spaced at least 12 feet a part.

Herbertson said prizes will be awarded after the event for the most creative pumpkins in conjunction with a new downtown focused initiative.

“It’s going to be part of a new program called downtown dollars,” he said. “The idea is that stores will donate up to a $50 gift card that people will be able to redeem downtown.”

The BOS thanked the Downtown Merchants Association for the creative initiative to replace the town’s annual Halloween parade and trick-or-treating event at town hall.

“I feel like we’re very lucky that we have a creative and sort of festive program for families who are going to be really missing the parade this year,” Selectwoman Melissa Kane said.

Herbertson said some of the more recent events ran by his organization have largely received positive feedback from other merchants.

“I think what’s nice is people, particularly new people who are coming into town, are seeing there’s people downtown, there’s people doing things,” he said. “They’re shopping, they’re dining, they’re doing different things, which was really what our goal was.”

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dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com

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