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Village Offers Sweet Relief for Trick-or-Treat

Thu, 10/26/2023 - 10:37
Each Halloween, thousands descend on what Chris Minardi, East Hampton’s deputy mayor, calls the village’s “Halloween district,” an expensive proposition for homeowners but a beloved tradition that the village supports through its candy assistance program.
Durell Godfrey

There’s a lot we expect from our local governments, but East Hampton Village may be the only municipality that has a candy assistance program to help residents meet the high cost of handing out candy to trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

“It’s not uncommon for families to spend thousands on Halloween,” said Chris Minardi, the deputy mayor, in a phone call. “We’re trying to promote this holiday, but it does cost homeowners money.” Mr. Minardi’s favorite candy is black licorice.

He announced at the village board meeting on Friday that for the third year, residents could contact him or Village Hall if they needed a little extra of the sweet stuff, for free, to help meet demand. His announcement was met with light laughter.

“I know,” he said, acknowledging the laughter, “but it’s thousands of kids.” He estimates that anywhere from two to three thousand children trick-or-treat at his home on Conklin Terrace and descend on the lanes off Newtown each Halloween.

The candy for the program is donated by Dylan’s Candy Bar, which operates seasonally at 52 Main Street. When the shop closes at the end of September, instead of moving the candy to another of its 11 locations, rumor has it that a gigantic elephant, painted purple, generously drops it off at Village Hall in a Tesla-size sack made of fairy hair.

Dylan’s Candy Bar couldn’t confirm the existence of the elephant (okay, it’s a joke), but Dylan Lauren, founder and C.E.O., said, “We are so happy to add sweetness to the Hamptons all summer, but especially during the Halloween festivities.” Her favorite candy is Dylan’s Toasted Graham Cereal ‘n Creme Bar.

In all seriousness, Halloween is no joke at all for the village.

Sherrill Road, Conklin Terrace, Newtown Lane, McGuirk Street, and Cooper Lane, what Mr. Minardi called the “core Halloween district,” will all be closed off to vehicular traffic from 4 p.m. as costumed revelers make their way for the evening’s fun.

“Crowd control is our biggest obstacle,” said Jeff Erickson, the acting chief of police. He likes peanut M&Ms, 100 Grand Bars, and Baby Ruths. “The village tries to ensure a safe and enjoyable evening for the community,” he said. That includes extra officers on “the lanes,” port-a-potties, and lights.

“There’s occasional shaving cream; rarely eggs. It’s been usually a very quiet evening for us, once we secure the zone around 4 p.m., we have guys on bike control. Thousands of kids show up, some all the way from Hampton Bays. The residents do a nice job and really get involved,” he said.

“I remember one year we had a hurricane the day before. All the trees were down. We had all this candy, but no children,” said Ken Rafferty, who lives on Sherrill Road. He loves Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. “My father-in-law used to ask the kids where they were from. Some came all the way from Montauk. He’d joke with them, ‘Go trick or treat in Montauk!’ But it’s fun every year. My son, who is 14, told me he loves the first couple of hours right after school when all the little kids come. Our neighbor, even though they live in Rhode Island, their friends come and man the door for them. They don’t want to lose their place on ‘trick-or-treat street.’ “

“I started to hear from some of my neighbors about the intensity of the holiday,” Mr. Minardi said by phone. “They were getting a little beat up.” With so many second-home owners, the burden of providing candy for thousands of children was falling on fewer full-time residents, and that’s how the candy assistance program was born three years ago. “There are only 20 to 30 houses now that do it and it used to be hundreds.”

Heather Baris has lived on Conklin Terrace for 18 years. “We enjoy seeing what feels like everyone in town each year,” she wrote in a text. “This year we even have out-of-town guests coming to view the spectacle. We love being smack in the middle of the festivities.” Her favorite candy? Almond Joy.

“One of the best things about living there is Halloween,” said Mr. Minardi. “We’ve had pizza trucks, ice cream trucks. I spend a fortune on candy.” He hand-delivers a flier to residents in the Halloween district explaining the candy assistance program. “People can discreetly reach out. Dylan is very supportive. She drops off a ton of candy.” Thus far, only a couple of residents have taken advantage of the program.

“When I was elected three years ago, we decided to upgrade the Halloween experience. The ambulance, Fire and Police departments all set up outposts that are visible to both help, but also for the optics. The number of families that decorate and hand out candy is dwindling. It’s sad. The mayor, myself, and Sarah Amaden [a village trustee] all live in that area. We’re trying to figure out a way to get more people to participate. It’s something we’re trying to save and support.”

Mr. Minardi said 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. is the “sweet spot” for trick-or-treating in the area. Right after school most kids head into the village to hit the stores and migrate up to the lanes after.

“It’s a school night,” said Mr. Erickson. “After 8 p.m., it shuts down pretty quick.”



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