Trick-or-treaters walk the Ave in Queen Anne. Photo courtesy of Craig Wilson
Trick-or-treaters walk the Ave in Queen Anne. Photo courtesy of Craig Wilson
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There’s about to be an invasion in Queen Anne and Magnolia — an invasion of little ghosts and goblins who are hungry for candy. Both neighborhoods will have their annual Halloween block party events on Halloween day, Oct. 31. 

Queen Anne

The Queen Anne event will be on Queen Anne Avenue North (“the Ave”) from West McGraw to West Blaine streets, from 3 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 31. 

Queen Anne Chamber executive director Charley Shore said this is a safe alternative to traditional trick-or-treating that is more authentic than the “mall experience.” The event kicks off the holiday season and brings a smile to everyone’s face, Shore said. 

It can be overwhelming for small businesses though, she said: Shore estimates 3,000 children attend the event and about 6,000 people total. 

Safety is the No. 1 challenge with an event like this, Shore said. The Ave is a bus thoroughfare so the street cannot be shut down. In previous years, the chamber has sponsored or paid for security or Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers to regulate the crowds and the traffic. This year, Queen Anne resident Brent Howard, owner of Sarka International, a local security company, is donating a team of six security officers to work with the volunteers. 

“It’s important that I stay involved in the community,” he said, “and give back to the merchants.”

Four of the security officers will be assigned to control traffic; two others will wander through the crowd to make sure kids are staying out of the street and businesses and merchandise are secure. 

To alleviate some stress, Howard and his team will try to keep a system of intersections that all go at the same time. 

The challenges this year are the same as every year: the narrowness of the sidewalks, traffic and the size of the crowd. This year, there is construction on one side of the street, and the Queen Anne Farmers Market going on, too. 

“[We] provide peace of mind because people don’t have to worry about the safety of their children as much,” Howard said. “The goal for the night is for everybody to have fun, go home safe and for everybody to want to continue the tradition.” 

Laura Formicola, owner of Charley + May, has participated in the tradition for the last three years. Formicola said she loves seeing the creative costumes and catching up with her regulars. She buys her candy by the piece and usually gives out about 2,500 pieces. 

Businesses typically spend $400 each in candy, Shore said: Some buy extra with hopes that they can return it, but “my gut feeling is those little 3,000 children pretty much take all of that candy and more.” 

Formicola always dresses up, and this year she is going as a piece of sushi. 

“It’s a good boost to the community,” she said. “People feel really connected.” 

Charley + May doesn’t do much business on Halloween during the event, but the shop gets a lot of visibility. 

“Maybe you’re not selling anything, but you’re creating a lot of goodwill,” Formicola said. 

Shore advises participants to park far away or walk. Because the farmers market will open this year on Halloween, there won’t be parking in the Bartell Drugs’ parking lot. She asks parents to not drop their children off to trick-or-treat on their own: “It’s a no-brainer,” she said. 

As for people who don’t attend the event, Shore said, “They’re missing out.” When communities don’t support the holidays, the neighborhood loses the cohesive holiday feeling. 

“This particular one is for the children,” she said. “The memories you make are everlasting, and those are the things that are important.”

Shore thanks the merchants who give up their sales time to participate in the event. 

“They chose to do it to give back to the community,” she said. “I think that’s a pretty rare thing for businesses any more.” 

Magnolia

Magnolia also has its own Halloween block party. West McGraw Street, from 32nd to 34th avenues West, in Magnolia Village is closed off to traffic for Magnolia’s Trick or Treat event on Oct. 31, from 4 to 6 p.m. 

Bill Whitham, the Halloween event chair for the Magnolia Chamber, said the event brings all of the kids and businesses in Magnolia out to the street. Whitham isn’t sure how many people come to the event, but businesses typically spend about $300 each in candy, and he’s heard estimates of up to 1,800 pieces handed out by a business. 

Unlike Queen Anne, which battles the traffic of the busy corridor, the Magnolia Chamber pays for a $250 permit to block off the street. One benefit to the permit cost is that SPD officers help set up the barricades and stay until the event ends. 

“The chamber is providing this as a goodwill service for the community,” he said. “It’s just an event that people and kids in particular look forward to.” 

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