Managing the Main Street Halloween supply chain––Ridgefield goes all out on Oct. 31
Photos by Jessica Collins
“My biggest fear is running out of candy,” says Rudy Chang, who takes a business-like approach to managing risk on Halloween night. “So we follow a few best practices in procuring supplies, setting up an efficient supply chain, manning stations, and rationing the candy throughout the night.”
Such is life on Main Street Ridgefield, where the Halloween decorations are over the top, and it is not unusual to see upwards of 5,000 costumed and confection-crazed children at your doorstep the night of October 31. “It’s a three-hour, intense event,” says Chang.
Though no one is quite sure when the Main Street trick-or-treating tradition first began, all seem to agree that it is gaining momentum. Despite two consecutive years in which Halloween was “cancelled”—Snowtober in 2011 and Sandy in 2012—the Main Street minions march forth in ever greater numbers, year after year. “It used to be that you trick-or-treated in your neighborhood, and that was enough,” says First Selectman Rudy Marconi, a Main Street resident himself. “But I think people want to feel safe, and Main Street gives them a degree of comfort.”
Like most Main Street homeowners, Marconi learned how to handle Halloween the hard way. After moving to Main Street in 2007, Marconi and his wife Peggy bought “four or five bags of candy,” sat out on their lawn chairs, and waited for customers. “We let the kids take handfuls of candy and put them in their sacks,” recalls Marconi. “Our neighbors came over and said, ‘What are you doing? You can’t let them take more than one. You’ll go broke!’ We ended up shutting the lights out at 7:30.”
When Valerie Jensen, founder of the Prospector Theater and a Main Street resident, got caught with short supply her first Halloween, she refused to admit defeat. “We weren’t going to let the well run dry,” she says. “We went to CVS, buying the disgusting candy that kids would never eat. But now we go to Costco and get pallets filled.”
Each October 31, the Ridgefield Police Department hosts a party at Lounsbury House. “We hand out 1,500 glow sticks, and they are all gone pretty quickly,” says RPD Capt. Jeff Kreitz. “There are thousands of kids on Main Street.” Any problems? “Shaving cream here and there, but everyone is generally well-behaved.”
Of course, there is the question of the leftovers. “I’m still working off the weight I gained after the hurricane,” says Jensen. “I collapsed into a pile of candy and ate my way out.”
Many Main Street residents make a party of it and embrace the madness. Some turn their lights off and ride it out like a storm. But how much you spend depends on your location and the extent to which you embrace the madness.
Chang, who lives toward the southern end of Main where trick-or-treating traffic thins out, spends a couple hundred every year. Jensen, whose home is at the epicenter of the evening, spends considerably more. Kreitz says RPD shells out $1,200 to $1,500 on candy, supported by local sponsors.
“We love it so much,” says Jensen. “I like to get the smoke machine cranking. We get the full-size candy bars. And I’ve seen grown-men cry when they see Uncle Fester. His eyes are so real.”