In a normal year, Lewiston’s Pumpkin Palooza attracts hundreds of people downtown for children’s games, live performances and costume contests. For the district’s business owners, the event is an invaluable kickoff to the holiday shopping season, exposing people to the variety of goods available in their shops.
With this year’s festival canceled, 22 businesses are banding together to create a downsized celebration on Halloween weekend, Lewiston’s Downtown Block Party, Oct. 29-31.
“This is to help support people,” said organizer Conner Phillips, whose business Simple Marketing is based in downtown’s Newberry Square. “Things are just a little bit rougher for the businesses downtown.”
The economic impact of the pandemic began when most of the businesses had to shut down for two months last spring. It’s being felt again this fall with the cancellation of Lewiston Artwalk and Pumpkin Palooza.
“That’s just gone,” Phillips said. “It’s understandable, but we wanted to find a way to support the small businesses.”
The block party will be spread out over three days to disperse the number of people in the area at any one time, he said. Businesses will offer discounts, and some will offer complimentary drinks and prepackaged food. Four hand-sanitizing stations will be set up in key public places. It will be up to the individual business whether or not customers are required to wear masks, he said.
Some businesses will offer discounts to customers in costume. However, this is not a trick-or-treat event, Phillips said.
“That would just bring a mass of people, and it’s just bringing people through places. We don’t want as many people as possible. We want people to shop. Trick-or-treating turns very quickly into everybody touching the same things.”
Posters will be hung throughout downtown displaying a list of participating businesses, he said. They also will be listed on the event’s Facebook page, Lewiston’s Downtown Block Party.