MAPLEWOOD, NJ – Forget romantic couples, it’s kids who love Valentine’s Day in Maplewood.
The town’s streets were flooded with parents and children for the third annual Chocolate Walk Saturday as mothers shopped, and their children feasted on treats.
Linda Brady and her son Gavin, 4, celebrated their first Chocolate Walk this year.
“It looked like something fun to do with the kids,” said Brady. “And, I got to do some shopping.”
She thought the event was a great idea and she loved that Maplewood “does extra stuff” to get people out of their houses and form one community.
“A lot of stores participated and it was great,” she added.
Bernadette Barron, owner of Hopscotch – a children’s clothing boutique on Maplewood Ave. – had her daughter, Lizzy, sit inside the store’s window display holding up a sign that read, “Free Chocolate Treats!” as patrons passed through the town.
Barron described the annual Chocolate Walk as a fun way to get kids to go into the stores.
“It’s fun to participate in,” said Barron. “But, it also gets people to town which translates into more sales.”
Anthony Giasullo also thinks it’s a fun community event to participate in and says, “no one takes it too seriously.”
Giasullo, of Beacon Jewelers, said the event brings “traffic” to his store and to the town of Maplewood.
“It’s like being part of the community,” Giasullo said. “Some stores do better with it, some do less,” he added.
“The town has been changing in the last four or five years,” said Giasullo. “We’re getting a lot more young people coming in, sometimes for the first time, and it’s good to get them in.”
For other participating merchants such as Eileen Dilley of Bee & Thistle Antiques, the Chocolate Walk seemed like a second Halloween of the year.
“They’re not here to support the village - they’re here for the chocolate,” she said. “We have a Halloween thing on Halloween, not Valentine’s Day.”
Dilley thinks the event should be promoted as a shopping experience rather than a ‘get your chocolate’ kind of event.