MIDDLETON — Children who make a trip to Downtown Middleton are in for a treat this year even though the annual trick-or-treating event has changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
StoryWalk, an outdoor, interactive reading of the book titled “Click, Clack, Boo!: A Tricky Treat,” lets participants stop outside 20 businesses to read a page or two posted at each place.
“We are looking for Halloween activities that are outside,” said Molly Schuman about taking her daughter on the StoryWalk recently.
Schuman’s daughter, Margot Layde, 4, picked out a tutu to wear with her Halloween-themed tights and shirt for the occasion. The family lives in Downtown Madison and Margot already has “Click, Clack, Boo!: A Tricky Treat” because she is given a book every Halloween and the author, Doreen Cronin, is a favorite, Schuman said.
Businesses are numbered and plotted on a map so readers can follow the stops in order. A coordinating activity such as asking what letter the word sheep starts with and then what other words start with “S” are also posted to create games that can be played between stops.
To get a free map and guide to the StoryWalk and one free copy of the book, start at the Middleton Public Library during curbside hours for the duration of the event, which ends Oct. 31.
A table is set up outside the front door during these times: noon to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. A staff member also is seated there at the curbside window and can assist during inclement weather.
StoryWalk maps and more information can be found online at www.downtownmiddleton.com/storywalk.
The book, which is provided by Friends of the Middleton Public Library, is the story of Farmer Brown who hates Halloween and his silly barnyard animals who do not. It was illustrated by Betsy Lewin.
Middleton resident Britta Schultz, who took part in the event recently with her husband, Alex, and their son, Jackson, said the activity was a way to get out of the house. She said Jackson loves to read and the activity is something he can do with the attention span of a child who is almost two.
“With COVID going on we aren’t too comfortable with going to pumpkin patches,” Alex Schultz said. “We don’t get down here a lot especially with the COVID so this is our excuse to get down here.”
The library set up the StoryWalk and the books are being provided by Friends of the Middleton Public Library while the Downtown Middleton Business Association developed the website and coordinated businesses.
In addition, the Downtown Middleton Business Association and the Middleton Public Lands, Recreation and Forestry Department is partnering with the Downtown Middleton Business Association to hold a Halloween costume contest.
Participants should take a picture of themselves in a costume at any of the StoryWalk stops, then post photos to Instagram by Nov. 1 using the hashtag #MiddletonCostumeContest.
The photos will be entered in one of four categories: Overall Best Costume; Best Homemade Costume; Best Family or Couple’s Costume; and Best Kid’s Costume. Winners will be announced on the business association’s Instagram page in early November and notified of their prizes.
The Downtown Middleton Business Association had sponsored trick-or-treating for 10 years by having participating businesses hand out candy to costumed children. More than 1,000 would come through the library doors alone, Bell said.
“It was a huge event,” Bell said. “Instead of saying there is no trick-or-treating (this year) we can focus on what we can do right now. … You still can do this awesome activity and have fun.”
Bell said she has ordered books twice as participation is nearing 300. She said some of the participants said they discovered businesses they had no idea existed in Downtown Middleton.
“We’re hoping that it brings families and other members of the community to Downtown Middleton (to) connect with the businesses and be kind of a reminder that we are all here,” said Andrea Van Nest, Downtown Middleton Business Association president. “The people who are coming down with their kids, the families, are having a lot of fun with it. … On the business side … it is is just really fun to see the people come by, stopping and looking into the windows.”
Van Nest said businesses are sorry to miss the trick-or- treating.
“So this seemed like a really nice way to keep that tradition alive in a socially distanced responsible way,” she said.
StoryWalk was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.
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