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Chatham braces for annual sugar exchange


Homes on some streets see over 700 costumed kids

CHATHAM – It’s sunset on Halloween night. Do you know where your children are? Most likely they are on Kinderhook Street in the Village of Chatham. Houses on the half-mile long street have been known to get 700 to 800 trick-or-treaters.

“The houses are close together, it’s a long street, almost all residential,” said Chatham Village Police Chief Kevin Bohme of why Kinderhook Street is such a draw. He also says that Payn Avenue is another busy street on Halloween evening. “Our biggest concern on Payn Avenue and Kinderhook Street is cars,” said Chief Bohme in a recent interview. He says the village can’t block Kinderhook street traffic since it’s a main route through the village. Parents are very safety conscious on Halloween, he said, but one problem is traffic back-ups, as parents drive their kids from house to house and wait in their cars in the street.

Most residents on the street contacted for this story said that Halloween is fun. One Kinderhook Street home owner, Gina NeJame, said she buys 900 pieces of candy. “You have to,” she said. Trick-or-treaters line up at her house starting around 4:30 p.m. and she says the rush doesn’t stop until she goes inside at about 8:30.

Georgene Gardner, another resident said, “It has a sense of carnival for children.”

Other streets in the village “can’t hold a candle to Kinderhook Street,” said Village trustee Patrick Wemitt. Mayor Paul Bohme, who sees about 300 to 400 sugar-loving kiddies at his house on the other side of town, said, “It’s been going on for years.”

“We know exactly what’s going on,” said the mayor of the influx of fairy princesses, knights, baby pumpkins and grim reapers who descend on the town every October 31.

Chief Bohme said that he has uniformed and plain clothed cops on patrol that night. He said they make sure “nobody bothers the little ones.”

Several Kinderhook Street residents mentioned bags of candy being dropped off at their doorsteps last year in advance of the onslaught on Halloween. Tung Chi Lee, a resident on the street, said that a woman brought them candy last year and said, “I know what it’s like on Kinderhook Street.”

Ms. NeJame said that villagers should not feel obligated to give her candy. “It’s only one night a year,” she said. 

“There seem to be fewer and fewer houses that stay open,” said another Kinderhook Street resident. Countryside Dental, which in the past has ordered more than 750 toothbrushes to give away, will not be giving out anything this year, since Halloween falls on a Saturday and the office is closed. And it’s not clear how many trick-or-treaters want toothbrushes mixed in with their candy, especially once word of what awaits them at the dentist’s office gets out on the street.

Residents say they close their doors when they run out of candy, which, if you are not prepared, can happen early in the evening.

“I look forward to it every year,” said Ms. NeJame.

Ms. Gardner pointed out that in her years on the street there has never been a problem with the crowds at Halloween. And the kids really do go all out on their costumes.

It’s quite a parade.   

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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