The Greater Westhampton Chamber of Commerce has decided not to cancel its annual Halloween parade in Westhampton Beach, bowing to criticism leveled against the group after news spread that it was pulling the plug on the decade-old Main Street tradition.
According to Chamber President Dwayne Wagner, members of the chamber’s executive board unanimously voted late last week to reinstate funding for the parade, explaining that it was the best decision for the neighborhood children, even if some local merchants are unhappy. He could not say how much it costs the chamber to buy the candy that is handed out by merchants during the parade, and he would not identify those business owners who wanted to cancel the parade.
“The decision transcends business interests,” Mr. Wagner said when reached on Monday. “It is simply the right thing to do for the children and their families in our community.”
Mr. Wagner, who took over as chamber president in April, said the current members of his group’s executive board are happy to host the parade. On Monday, he stressed that the decision to cancel it was made last year, before he took over as president. Mr. Wagner, an attorney who has sat on the chamber’s executive board for the past four years, said he voted to keep funding for the parade last year but was in the minority.
When reached on Wednesday, Chamber Vice President Karen McNamara said that Mr. Wagner is the only chamber official authorized to comment on the parade.
Westhampton Beach Village Clerk Rebecca Molinaro confirmed that Mr. Wagner filed all of the necessary paperwork for the parade on Monday morning. She added that she does not foresee any problems with the route—which, as in previous years, will start by the Westhampton Beach Elementary School on Mill Road and travel south toward Main Street—being approved by the Village Board at its next meeting on Thursday, October 4.
The Halloween parade is now scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, October 31.
At least one Main Street business is happy that the parade will be returning. Joyce Takos, the co-owner of Goldberg’s Famous Deli said she is pleased that one will be held this year even though her business tends to slow down during the festivities. Still, she said it is worth it to see all of the neighborhood kids dressed in their favorite costumes.
“I think it is really great for the kids,” Ms. Takos said. “I have no complaints about it whatsoever.
“I’m not from the village originally,” she continued. “But the locals really look forward to it, and if I still had small kids, I would have them dressed up in the parade, too.”
Village officials are also pleased that the parade has been moved back to Main Street, though Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller said he is not entirely surprised by the chamber’s reversal of course.
“I am very happy to have it back on Main Street,” he said this week. “I figured that when the public found out it was not going to be there, there would be a few phone calls made.
“It is something people like,” he continued. “They were happy to have their children go to it.”
After the chamber originally opted out of the parade, the elementary school’s Parent Teacher Association stepped up and agreed to host a smaller parade on Mill Road, one that would have included Halloween activities for the children.
Stacy Rubio, the president of the PTA, said she is happy that the chamber has agreed to again host the event on Main Street, where it can be enjoyed by more people.
“This is what we would rather do,” Ms. Rubio said. “We were trying to make the best out of a bad situation, but that is over now.”
She added that the PTA is now reaching out to those groups that volunteered to help her organization to see if they want to assist the chamber.
“We want to keep the kids involved,” Ms. Rubio said. “We are looking for a way we can merge the two events. I’m sure we will come up with something great.”