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Sep 26, 2012 11:43 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Chamber Pulls Plug On Halloween Parade In Westhampton Beach

Sep 26, 2012 1:11 PM

Young witches and monsters hoping to haunt Westhampton Beach’s Main Street this Halloween are going to have to look elsewhere for their treats after the Greater Westhampton Chamber of Commerce decided to pull the plug on its annual costume parade in the village.

According to Chamber President Dwayne Wagner, the decision to cancel the parade was made last year following discussions with Main Street merchants, including many who had complained that the decade-long tradition, which required the temporary closure of Main Street, was disrupting their business. Mr. Wagner said the chamber, which funded the parade by supplying participating merchants with candy to give away to children, has instead decided to contribute funds to the Westhampton Beach Elementary School Parent Teacher Association. The PTA, in turn, will be holding a separate, private Halloween parade for schoolchildren, and their siblings, along Mill Road and near the school.

“This decision was arrived at cooperatively between the prior board of the chamber and representatives from the PTA,” Mr. Wagner said this week.

PTA President Stacy Rubio said her group is sponsoring a parade on Wednesday, October 31, that will begin at the elementary school and continue toward the traffic circle before returning to the school. After marching, students will be able to participate in a variety of spooky activities that will be set up both inside and outside the school. Ms. Rubio said those activities will include a haunted stage created by high school students, a “touch station” featuring creepy-crawly animals that will be provided by the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, and music provided by a deejay. “Feel boxes” in which students will be able to stick their hands inside covered boxes and guess what’s inside will also be set up.

“What is nice is that all the schools in the district can be involved,” Ms. Rubio said. “We want to provide our students and their siblings with a fun, safe activity to celebrate the holiday.”

Westhampton Beach Schools Superintendent Michael Radday said he is also excited about the change in plans. In an email, he said the PTA is pulling together a number of fun activities for students.

“The Elementary School PTA has planned a wonderful Halloween celebration for our students,” Mr. Radday wrote. “The PTA always does such a great job and I am looking forward to this Halloween celebration.”

But not everyone is pleased with the change in venue. At last week’s Westhampton Beach Village Board work session, some trustees expressed their regret that next month’s parade will not include Main Street, saying that, in previous years, parents from around the East End would bring their children to the event. One trustee, Patricia DiBenedetto, noted that older children who attended the chamber parade in the past will not be allowed to march in the new one.

“I see more older kids than younger,” she said. “I marched every year.”

At their next meeting on Thursday, October 4, village trustees are expected to vote on the new PTA-sponsored parade that will include the temporary closure of Mill Road. Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller said he does not foresee any issues approving the new parade route, adding that he thinks a district-sponsored event will be a good way to keep children out of trouble on a day known for mischief.

“I am happy that there is a parade,” Mr. Teller said. “If some people look back before the parade, it was all kinds of mischief and damage done and I kind of attribute the parade with 98 percent of that stuff being cleared up and everything changing.”

Still, the mayor lamented the fact that the chamber is no longer directly sponsoring the village’s Halloween parade, saying that children should be allowed to trot down Main Street.

Lynne Jones, the owner of Lynne’s Cards and Gifts on Main Street, is also upset by the decision made by the chamber. She said her employees have always dressed up for the festivities.

“I think it’s a crying shame, I really do,” Ms. Jones said. “The kids, costumes, babies and dogs—it has all been wonderful since day one.”

She added that she plans to still give away candy to children dressed in costume, though she admits that she does not know how much she will need to buy since the parade no longer passes in front of her store.

Mr. Wagner, meanwhile, said he hopes that Main Street businesses will embrace the spirit of the holiday and offer sweet treats to those children who do make their way to their stores. He also left the door open for the chamber to again sponsor the parade, an event that typically attracts scores of children.

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Do they really loose that much business? HUMBUG!
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Sep 26, 12 3:58 PM
* 'Lose'
By Hambone (514), New York on Oct 1, 12 4:48 PM
Really........2 hours hurt their busines'ss that much????......old traditions are slowly disapppearing.
By mother of firefighter (18), Southampton on Sep 26, 12 4:16 PM
Wessthampton Chamber is run by a bunch of jerks-hopefully the kids will come to Main Street on their own intiative. 90% of Main Street welcomes them.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Sep 26, 12 4:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
It must be pointed out that Dwayne Wagner is new in town
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Sep 26, 12 4:33 PM
How stupid are these business owners, yes the road is shut down, but the parade brings in a lot of people, who will then stick around and hmmm I don't know.......maybe shop in your stores! Horrible decision, feel badly for the kids and those business owners who embraced the day as a tradition.
By rjhdad (73), southampton on Sep 27, 12 9:09 AM
By Hambone (514), New York on Sep 28, 12 5:31 PM
Bill Cosby is not dead, after all.
In fact, he will be at the Performing Arts Center on Main Street in WHB on Oct 7.
I would like to hear his opinion on this
By loading... (601), quiogue on Sep 29, 12 6:33 PM
Shame on you, "New Westhampton"! Why wouldnt you want to bring local families down to main street?
This is nnot the same place where I grew up.
By sparkhampton (27), Hampton Bays on Sep 30, 12 9:08 PM
Apparently they have reversed the decision and the parade will be a go. That's the right call.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Oct 1, 12 3:38 PM
Seemed to me that most of the merchants participated and looked to be enjoying the festivities.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Oct 1, 12 3:40 PM