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Downtown Carlisle was taken over by ghouls, goblins and ghosts on Saturday afternoon during the third annual Spooky Saturday while children and their parents visited 27 local stores as an alternative to classic trick-or-treating in the borough.

Stephanie Patterson Gilbert, owner of Georgie Lou’s Retro Candy & Gifts, hosted the event Saturday and 26 other downtown businesses joined her in offering a safer alternative to the nighttime trick-or-treating event.

“It is much more structured, some neighborhoods in town when you go trick-or-treating on trick-or-treat night, they are not well-lit, there is not a lot of participation, so this is just a nice alternative,” she said.

From noon to 3 p.m., area children visited the businesses to trick-or-treat, play games and participate in other activities.

According to Patterson Gilbert, the event was for children 12 and younger, offering a better, safer way for the children to participate in trick-or-treating activities, while keeping them from having to come out at night.

“It is well lit because it is daytime, it is much safer, you don’t have to worry about whose door you are going to because we are all locally owned businesses here to give back to the community,” she said.

Children started at Georgie Lou’s, 22 N. Pitt St., getting a treat and a map to the other participating businesses. From there, they paraded for several blocks in all directions, hitting stores on West and East High, North and South Hanover, West Pomfret, North and South Pitt and South West streets.

Patterson Gilbert said hundreds of children and families participated in the event, as she had given out easily more than 100 maps to families with several children participating.

“I gave out everything I had planned to give out in 20 minutes, so it is much bigger than the first and second years,” she said.

Luckily, Patterson Gilbert owns a candy store and can grab treats off the shelves, she joked.

While turnout was much higher than previous years, Patterson Gilbert said it could be due to the storm which is predicted to hit the area in the coming days.

“I think we are getting a better turnout this year maybe than other years simply because of the storm that is coming, so who knows what is going to happen on trick-or-treat night,” she said.

She said the event is a fun way to not only offer a safer alternative and make children happy, but to help people see the downtown.

“To me it is sort of a no-brainer event, it is not a lot of effort to make a lot of kids happy and to get them circulating downtown,” she said. “That is the number one thing I think we need to do down here, because year to year new businesses do go in, and most people come downtown and look at just their stores they always go to. This way people are circulating around, actually going into businesses, even if it’s for a couple of minutes. They are going to see what is there and hopefully realize that the downtown is vibrant and has a lot of stuff to offer and is a nice alternative to shopping in big box stores and national chains. Overall it is a win-win for our businesses and the kids coming down to get free candy. I wish more businesses would participate. It is really hard to advertise these days and find effective ways to get people in your door, and this is just a feel-good event where people can come in, take a look around for a second. If we can get that going on more often I think the downtown has a chance.”

Several other activities were also offered with CALC and Nancy Stamm’s Galleria hosting craft projects and Mrs. Stamm’s Deli offered a coloring contest.

Participating businesses included Cafe Bruges, History on High, Miss Ruth’s Time Bomb, Whistlestop Bookshop, Bosler Memorial Library, The Clothes Vine, Pealer’s Flowers and Company, Helena’s Chocolate Cafe and Creperie, Shellie’s Comb and Clipper, Marjorie’s Gems, GAIA Fresh Food Cafe, Artist Market of Pomfret, Lili’s Place, the Carlisle Bakery, K. Marie and Company, Courthouse Commons, Mrs. Stamm’s Deli, Carlisle Arts Learning Center, Market Cross Pub, Redd’s Smokehouse BBQ, Woodshed Guitar Works, Valerie Moyer’s Unique Dolls and Gifts, Andalusia, Emporium Design Concepts, Nancy Stamm’s Galleria and 215 Hair Studio.

Patterson Gilbert also made a special thanks to Posie the Fairy for entertainment and the Downtown Carlisle Association.

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