Published at PO Box 96 124 W. St. Clair Romeo, MI 48065. Phone: (586)752-3524 Fax: (586)752-0548
Updated Wednesday, December 04, 2013 at 3 PM EST
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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 10/16/13
Above, 22-month-old Evan Straughten has the time of his life hammering pegs into a pumpkin during kid's game activities at Harvest Day 2013. Below, Charles Moran, left, of Romeo Computer Company, and John Gougeon, of Pradko, Gallagher and Slanec, were the second and first place winners, respectively, in the chili cook-off contest hosted by the Greater Romeo Washington Chamber of Commerce. Gougeon is a repeat first-place winner, having taken top honors last year, too.
(Observer photos by Jerry Fraeyman)
Fun, free events big hit
for Harvest Day attendees
by JERRY FRAEYMANUnder idyllic conditions, Harvest Day 2013 drew throngs of people to downtown Romeo Oct. 12 to enjoy the fine weather and many free activities.
Observer Special Writer
Along the way, the event kick-started Halloween and raised money for several local causes.
In its sixth year and hosted by the Romeo Merchants, Restaurants and Professionals (MRP) association, Harvest Day is billed as a way for Romeo businesses to thank their customers.
Free events throughout the day included scarecrow building, face painting, animal balloons, trolley rides, and free cider and donuts.
Other activities included a cemetery walk, trick-or-treating through a fantasy forest, a chili cook-off contest, chain saw wood carving, and several raffles.
With blue skies and temperatures in the 70s, Carol Humphreys, MRP president and chair of the event, estimates several thousand visitors took part in the day's festivities.
"We try to have something for everyone," she said. "Our hope is that people enjoy themselves and remember the sponsors who put on the event."
The bike raffle raised $614 for the Romeo School District Homeless Children's Fund, while the fantasy forest walk, put on by Little Learners Childcare Center and Romeo Kiwanis, raised approximately $500 that will go toward a splash park planned for Bruce Township Park.
One of the day's most popular activities was scarecrow building, held in front of Connelly's Creations. Families were provided free materials to design and create their own scarecrows, which they could take home and use for Halloween.
Among the early arrivers was the Susalla family of Washington Township<Preston and Michelle and sons Carter, 6, and Andrew, 4. The Susallas were repeat visitors to Harvest Day.
Another Washington Township group creating a scarecrow was the Maris family. Mom Keri, along with daughters Tiffany, 9, and Ashlee, 4, were helped by Connie Connelly, owner of Connelly's Creations and an MRP board member.
Connelly said this year's scarecrow building was the most popular it's ever been. By 1 p.m., she was nearly out of twine and safety pins. By the end of the day, more than 300 scarecrows had been made.
An equally popular attraction was Big Don the Balloonist, who contorted hundreds of balloons into creative shapes and entertained crowds with humor and wisecracks. Blake Barnette, 8, of Bruce, was all smiles after receiving an air-filled orange-and-black cheetah.
A new attraction to Harvest Day this year was a chain saw wood carving. Trained wood carver Emil Skzipala, aka the Chainsaw Man, created several original creations from his location in front of First Merit Bank.
Across the street, tattoo artists from an Affair to Remember decorated arms and faces with glitter and paint. Seven-year-old Maureen Cusenza received a spider on her arm. Other popular images included the Detroit Tigers logo, which several boys could be seen wearing throughout the village.
Meantime, in the Village Park, members of the Romeo High School S.E.R.V.E. program donated time to managing games and activities for small children, including the bean bag toss and pumpkin bowling.
Uptown, the Greater Romeo Washington Chamber of Commerce held a chili cook-off contest and beer/wine tasting. According to Kelley Stephens, chamber executive director, proceeds from the event were used to purchase the bikes raffled off for the Homeless Children's fund.
John Gougeon, of Pradko, Gallagher and Slanec dentistry, was a repeat chili cook-off winner with his Chaleur Blanc (white heat) chicken and white bean recipe.
Further up town, more fundraising was held behind the Little Learners Childcare Center, where more than 50 trick or treaters enjoyed a Fantasy Forest.
Little Learners owner Sandy Calcagno said 10 vendors contributed to raise more than $500 that will go toward the Bruce Park Splash Park.
The childcare center was the northernmost stop of MI Trolley Tours, which provided free transportation throughout the day with several stops throughout the village.