By BRADEN LAMMERS
Many of the stores had closed for the day, the street had been abandoned, for the people knew of the ghosts and ghouls that would soon be invading.
Thousands of ghosts, goblins and a few superheroes turned out for the city of Jeffersonville’s annual Halloween trick-or-treat event on Spring Street in downtown Monday night.
Sara Schutz, director of special events and RiverStage for the Jeffersonville Parks Department, said she expected 7,000 to trick-or-treat on Spring Street, close to the same amount that turned out for the event last year.
“The crowds are definitely growing,” Schutz said. And the parks department added to the amount of street entertainment this year, which has been a hit for the people waiting in line for candy.
Before trick-or-treating even started thousands waited in line for the annual event that has been held downtown for more than two decades.
Jeffersonville resident Melissa Overton, along with her three kids, were the first people in line that started at Spring Street and Court Avenue. The line stretched for a block down Court Avenue, to Wall Street, and then for another block back up Wall Street. It was still 30 minutes before the event started. And on the other side of Spring Street, at Market Street, several hundred eager people waited for the gates to be opened so the zombies and skeletons could invade the merchant booths lining the street.
Overton she had been waiting since 4 p.m. to claim the first spot in line.
“I do it every year,” she said. “They say they have fun, so we come,” she said of her kids.
Overton added with the rain forecast for Thursday — on Halloween night for the city’s official trick-or-treat — there was extra incentive to attend trick-or-treat in downtown this year.
For many families in Jeffersonville, and outside Jeffersonville, trick-or-treating the Monday before Halloween has become just as much as a tradition as going out on Halloween night.
That’s why Nicole Edmonson, who lives in Charlestown, said her family comes to trick-or-treat every year.
“It’s a family tradition pretty much,” she said.
Jeffersonville resident Leandra Rosado was also waiting in line, with her group of 10, something she has been doing for years. Rosado said her family has been coming to the event every year since moving to Jeffersonville in 2005.
“They have fun and it’s also safe,” Rosado said. “It’s better than going door-to-door in the neighborhoods.”
She said she doesn’t worry with her kids trick-or-treating downtown because the merchants lining Spring Street are handing out the candy and the kids are in a somewhat controlled environment on one street that is blocked off.
Many of the merchants lining historic downtown have been participating in the event since it began and hand out gobs of candy each year.
Warren Schimpff, owner of Schimpff’s Confectionery, said he will likely go through the six, five-gallon buckets full of suckers and peanut butter kisses during the two-hour event.
Schutz said the merchants provide a portion of their own candy and the city supplements what the merchants and others lining the street purchased with $5,000 worth of sweet treats.
City Pride helped to provide one of the spookiest venues of the night as Glossbrenner Garden was decked out in cobwebs, spiders and skeletons. Peggy Duffy, co-chair of City Pride, said the beautification group has been decorating the small garden for about eight years. But with new entrance to Spring Street, the crowds were flowing through the public garden.
“This is fantastic,” Duffy said of the turnout Monday.
She estimated the group was running through the more than 2,000 pieces of candy it provided before dipping into the city’s stash of goodies.
“It is a tradition,” said Jeffersonville Parks Director Paul Northam. “It’s been a success every year and it keeps growing every year.”