Friday the 13th!

Halloween Block Party hits 30th birthday this year

By ALLEN MINCEY
Posted 10/13/17

This is a special year for one of Cleveland's long-running, downtown traditions: the Halloween Block Party.Strangely enough, this year's falls on a month that includes a Friday the 13th, which is …

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Friday the 13th!

Halloween Block Party hits 30th birthday this year

Posted

This is a special year for one of Cleveland's long-running, downtown traditions: the Halloween Block Party.

Strangely enough, this year's falls on a month that includes a Friday the 13th, which is today. The two seem to go together like kids and Halloween costumes.

Sharon Marr, MainStreet Cleveland executive director, has been in that position for 13 years, and likes discussing the event's 30-year  history.

"It has become a tradition, and brings around 20,000 to the Bradley County Courthouse Square for many reasons," she said. Mainly, the event was created by the Cleveland Police Department as a safe alternative for trick-or-treaters, and the first few parties were not even held around the courthouse.

The CPD held the safe alternative to children going from home to home after stories of tainted goodies. It was first held in the parking lot next to the police department, and then moved due to rain to the Village Shopping Center, now known as the Village Green.

The event expanded to include fun for parents and adults, with musical entertainment highlight a stage at the shopping center. Motown legends the Drifters and the Platters were the first two groups to perform at the indoor party.

It has since grown to include musical entertainment from Vince Vance and the Valiants, and, in 2005, Little Richard. Marr said that the appearance of Little Richard brought the largest crowd to the courthouse square than ever, and the event has continued to have thousands of participants.

This year, Nashville-based The Answer Band will perform on the eastern courthouse area. Cleveland favorites Convertibull will perform at a stage set  up near the entrance to the Back Alley Gallery. 

Candy was given out to children throughout the earlier years that now is made and distributed by M&M Mars in what has become known as Treat Street.

"Some kids get more candy at the block party than they have ever received through just regular trick-or-treating," Marr said.

Treat Street was originally located on Broad Street, just north of the courthouse, and situated so that families who attended the Halloween events on Centenary Avenue could walk down Broad to “Treat Street.”

Along with Treat Street, M&M Mars also sponsors a costume contest for the kids. It has now become a contest based on age ranges.

"I think that M&M has been involved with the block party at least 16 years, and we appreciate their commitment to the children of the area," Marr stated.

More and more vendors have became involved in the party, from local nonprofit organizations to industries and even churches. Many handed out candy to children, and also sold food at the event.

Vendor applications are being accepted at the MainStreet Cleveland office. For more information, call the MainStreet office at 423-479-1000  or visit www.mainstreetcleveland.com to download a vendor agreement.

Marr said she is looking forward to the 30th anniversary of the Cleveland event.

"It is a great place to see friends and check out interesting costumes, and to see those who were at the first block party now at the event with their children and grandchildren is wonderful," she said.

The Downtown Halloween Block Party will begin at 5 p.m. Oct. 31, and end at approximately 10 p.m. Streets around the courthouse will close earlier in the day to prepare for the event.

"And don't worry about the fire [cleanup] at the courthouse. The cleanup will not affect the party, and the trash trailers will be moved before then," Marr added.

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