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Packed full of monsters, witches and other characters, downtown Potsdam holds annual Fright Night

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POTSDAM - The days are slowly becoming shorter, the temperatures are gradually dropping, and children and adults alike are once again breaking out the scariest and most creative costumes they have to offer.

With Halloween just around the corner, downtown Potsdam held its annual Fright Night Thursday evening, and it drew hundreds of chilly yet eager families and friends touring Market Street for games, entertainment and plenty of candy.

Fright Night, which will be hitting the 30-year mark soon, is typically held the Thursday before Halloween. The event is sponsored by the Potsdam Chamber of Commerce.

“Pretty much everything is free that’s on the schedule. There are a few things that people may be charging or asking donations for. There’s some organizations that are setting up that may have a donation can out, but most of the activities are actually free,” chamber Executive Director Marylee Ballou said. “Some of the businesses hand out candy, others have activities that you can do. (We have) make a cookie, we have Spooky Fishing. The Northern Music & Video is showing ‘Frankenweenie’ tonight. So you can sit in the cold and watch ‘Frankenweenie.’ It’s a great movie. There’s some face painting and other activities happening at all of the area businesses.”

Businesses ranging from Evans & White Ace Hardware, to the University Bookstore and from Arby’s to The Bagelry were among those getting in on the Fright Night action. The hardware store held a treasure hunt, the bookstore was doing a children’s Halloween reading, Arby’s was offering free value shakes to kids in costume, and The Bagelry was giving away cookies.

Ms. Ballou noted that the event is generally good for a wide variety of ages, whether it be those enjoying the scene or those helping out to make the night the success that it is.

“For the most part, especially early on, it’s usually the young kids and their parents. Some of the high schoolers will come out midstream and hang around,” she said. “We do have college students helping, volunteering with the businesses. We have the SUNY Potsdam lacrosse girls helping out. We have Delta Tau Tau helping out, and we may have Kappa Delta Chi.”

The crowd began filling Market Street shortly before sunset, ready to explore what the night had to offer.

Among those enjoying the festivities were Potsdam residents and friends Jessica Berkman and Sarah Charlebois, along with their children.

“We met up with all our friends and we went to The Bagelry to make the cookies. We also stopped this year at Sergi’s for Gina’s Gift,” Ms. Charlebois said.

“It’s just a great night for the kids. It’s safe and the businesses all open up. It’s fantastic,” Ms. Berkman said.

Gina’s Gift hosted free activities for kids of all ages including an opportunity to make Witch’s Brew (Halloween trail mix) and Batty ‘Bout Books Bookmarks with members of the Clarkson women’s lacrosse team.

Gina’s Gift, according to its Facebook page, is a memorial gift fund in honor of Gina Lizardi. This fund was created to pass Gina’s love for reading on to each baby born at Canton-Potsdam Hospital.

The event also served as a fundraiser for Gina’s Gift. A book was being donated for each piece of CaryEsther Designs Jewelry, new items made exclusively for Gina’s Gift, and jar of Muffy’s Mustard sold at Fright Night. Copies of “Wherever You Are Our Love Will Find You” by Nancy Tillman were also being sold with one book being donated to the newborn collection for each book sold.

Also having fun Thursday night were siblings Sylvia Ludlam, Stephen Ludlam and Seth Ludlam. The trio were dressed as characters from the famous Lord of the Rings series.

“It’s nice, it’s nice. We play a couple of games and it’s fun to see what everyone else is wearing. It’s also fun just to dress up ourselves,” Ms. Ludlam said.

“We always get the question, ‘What are you dressed up as?’ I’m dressed up as Gandalf, and we’re all one of the Lord of the Rings characters,” Stephen said.

While much of the Fright Night crowd was from Potsdam, some made the trek from other parts of the county to enjoy the night. Josh LaFave and Rachel Laso, both from Norwood, brought their young children to the event.

“This is my first time here with my daughter. It’s her first time. When I was younger I went but this is my first time with my own child,” Mr. LaFave said. “We’ve been getting some food, getting her used to being in a costume and hanging out with some other kids. It’s been a lot of fun so far.”


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