Vampires, Minions, unicorns, Trolls and monsters took over Downtown Chesterton Friday evening to kick off the Halloween festivities. The annual Duneland Chamber of Commerce Trick or Treat Downtown drew around a thousand attendees for an evening, according to Duneland Chamber of Commerce President Maura Durham.
Every year, the Chamber hosts the downtown-wide trick-or-treating extravaganza, where businesses hand out candy while activities like bounce houses, games, snacks, performances and music are open to the community in the nearby park.
Durham described the event as “an organized chaos of costumes,” highlighting that the event provides a safe, controlled and candy-loaded night for families to celebrate Halloween.
“We always get a lot of families, and this may be the first time some of them are experiencing Chesterton,” Durham said. “It’s all about the quality of life for us at the Chamber, and this is a great chance to give people a fun experience here, say hi, and hand out candy.”
Framed in a lively, historic downtown, Chesterton mirrored the bizarre and bustling “Halloween Town,” full of colorful, otherworldly characters. The Duneland Chamber staff dressed as the bright, whimsical characters from the animated movie, “Trolls.”
“I love to see all of the costumes for Halloween,” Beth Lunsford, Duneland Chamber Marketing Director said. “Where else would you get to see such a variety of costumes, ranging from super scary, to princesses to Wonder Woman. There’s a lot of creativity here.”
Lunsford said more than 50 businesses either gave candy out at their storefronts or set up a booth for trick-or-treaters in front of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce building.
“It’s great because it involves bringing the community and businesses together, especially along Calumet and Broadway, and beyond that into the rest of the town,” Lunsford said.
Jill Wilson sat outside O’Gara & Wilson Antiquarian Booksellers handing out candy dressed as a Hobbit from Lord of the Rings, appearing as if she jumped out of the fantasy book, itself. Co-owner and husband Douglas Wilson stated that it’s a great tradition they’ve been a part of every year.
“We would have to be Scrooges to not be a part of this,” Douglas Wilson said. “We’ve had two kids press upon their parents to let them come in and they each got a book. They seemed more interested and excited about the books than the candy, so there’s hope for the future.”
Porter Regional Hospital was one of the many organizations and businesses who set up a stand outside to hand out treats, however, they also handed out Halloween Safety Tips on cards to give to families. Lisa Matie, general manager of The Courts of Northwest Indiana, saw several familiar faces stop by her booth.
“We do both youth and adult sports,” Matie said. “This is our first year and it’s been a great opportunity to get to give back to the kids, and tell them about us if they’ve never been to the courts. A lot of people know who we are, but if not, now they’re familiar with us.”
Beyond the many businesses who participate, families also see the event as a beloved tradition. Sara Lopez brings her family of four every year for a colorful night of fun.
“I think this is a great event,” Lopez said. “I remember trick-or-treating as a kid in Northwest Indiana, and it’s neat to continue that tradition with the kids.”
It takes mounds of candy and resources to make Duneland Chamber Trick or Treat Downtown possible, Durham wanted to thank Porter Regional Hospital, Ideas in Motion Media, The Times of Northwest Indiana, Porter Starke Services, BMO Harris Bank, CMA Lending, Ashley’s Jewelry By Design, 1st Source Bank, Raymond James Bert Miller, T.C.U., R.V., Symphony of Chesterton, Centier Bank, Horizon Bank, Lakeside Wealth Management Group, South Shore Insurance-Chris Newton and Hair’s The Thing for their support this year.