Main-Dempster Mile celebrates Halloween with costumes, candy and canine cookies


Angeli Mittal/Daily Senior Staffer

Many kids group together while trick-or-treating, pulling their parents along behind them.

Nixie Strazza, Reporter

The Main-Dempster Mile held a Spooky Saturday trick-or-treat walk after a year-long hiatus, complete with costumes, candy and puppy pumpkin spice lattes. 

More than 70 Evanston establishments located along Chicago Avenue participated in the day’s festivities. During the event, residents enjoyed a pet costume contest, a book signing with children’s book author Alex Willan and restaurant discounts. 

Beyond just a celebration of the holiday season, the event was another milestone in the long return to normalcy for small businesses emerging from the pandemic. Families were encouraged to dress up and reacquaint themselves with old favorites and new businesses in the neighborhood.

“The district needs a rebound,” said Katherine Gotsick, executive director of the Main-Dempster Mile. “Having an event where people are going to be walking inside and outside stores, and just reminding themselves that the stores exist with the holidays coming up is huge.”

Given the high COVID-19 vaccination rates among Evanston adults, members of the organization said they felt more comfortable putting on the event this year. Gotsick said she encouraged parents to take necessary precautions such as mask-wearing to keep their unvaccinated children safe.

In addition to giving out candy, businesses showcased specialty products to gain exposure and revive their relationships with clientele, said Ramie Gulyas, co-owner of pet store Follow Your Nose and The Alchemist’s Wife, a handcrafted soap and body shop.

As residents walked by her storefront Saturday, Gulyas set out Halloween-themed pet cookies and bowls of candy in the center of the split store. 

Foot traffic along the Main-Dempster Mile has remained low since the peak of the pandemic due to shuttered storefronts and ongoing staff shortages, Gulyas said. It was important for a substantial number of businesses to partake in Spooky Saturday in order to draw a larger crowd, she added. 

“By working together we can promote the area for Evanstonians, for tourism and for anyone looking for something fun to do,” Gulyas said.

Lena Kim, owner of niceLena & Friends, said she was looking forward to seeing kids out in costume and has missed moments of liveliness in the community. 

Kim is known for the miniature wooden fairy doors she donates throughout the year to businesses along the Main-Dempster Mile, inspired by her daughter’s own affinity for fairies. Participating businesses, such as Marie Parie Boutique and Blind Faith Cafe, decorate each door to match their storefront.

This year, Kim and Gotsick worked to create “Fairies & Scaries 2021,” a story and coloring book featuring fairy tales about local businesses. 

Gotsick wrote the stories and members of Ignite, an Evanston-based development program within Search Inc. contributed the illustrations. Search Inc. provides learning and employment programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

The proceeds from book sales will go to the Main-Dempster Mile Festival Fund to finance future community projects and events. 

Gotsick said Spooky Saturday will be one of many in-person holiday events which the Main-Dempster Mile will put on this season, in an effort of continued support. 

“It is really joyful to see a sense of energy of people coming out in their costumes, enjoying the neighborhood,” Gotsick said. “Everybody is going to be smiling underneath their masks.” 


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Twitter: @NixieStrazza

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