Businesses at bottom end of Main St peeved by exclusion from Halloween

FIGHTING FOR IT: Tanya Merrick of Onelia's Place Cafe and Bryan Crawford of Dominoes Pizza. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.
FIGHTING FOR IT: Tanya Merrick of Onelia's Place Cafe and Bryan Crawford of Dominoes Pizza. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

Tanya Merrick of Onelia’s Place Cafe wants to tell Lithgow residents why her business did not participate in Halloween 2017, even though she personally ‘loves’ decorating the shop and offering lollies to trick-or-treaters. 

“Us businesses down here, it’s not that we don’t want to participate it’s that we aren’t given the option," Ms Merrick said.

“Every single year we have to fight for it.” 

MAP: The map of the event on the Halloween brochure.

MAP: The map of the event on the Halloween brochure.

Ms Merrick posted a sign on the cafe’s door explaining that the restaurant would not be open or participate in Halloween in protest of the Halloween committee’s decision to not include the lower block of Main Street’s shops in the festival area. 

This year the road closures for Halloween extended from Bank Lane to Bridge Street, whereas last year the last block before Lithgow Street was included in the road closures.

“The organisers have to realise that from east to west we are the opening of Main Street, and we’ve pushed people up Main Street every year because we have to. The biggest eateries are here down this end. But we were just a car park that day.

“I’ve done everything I can. We were actually crushed to not be participating this year, because we love it and when we do it we decorate the whole shop.” 

Manager at Dominoes Pizza Bryan Crawford said the restaurant (which is on the same block as Onelia’s Place Cafe) did not receive the same kind of business as it did during Halloween last year. 

“We were dead. We’re a little bit busier than normal but nothing compared to what it should have been,” he said. 

Ms Merrick also said she did not think it was responsible for businesses to participate in the trick-or-treat unless they were in the sections of Main Street closed off to cars due to safety concerns for children crossing the road. 

“It’s way too unsafe,” she said. 

Andrew Muir, the economic development director at Lithgow City Council, said Halloween did not have the funding to close off the entirety of the Main Street shopping strip. 

TRICK OR TREAT: Festival-goers at Lithgow Halloween 2017. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

TRICK OR TREAT: Festival-goers at Lithgow Halloween 2017. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

“We made a very genuine attempt to engage with those businesses, but it was really up to them as to whether they would like to participate.

“We have a limited budget for the event. It was about the same as last year’s but part of the over expending from last year was the additional area of road closure and the additional stage, and there were significant costs in that. 

“Secondly, the feedback we had from last year was that people spoke about dead spaces in the length of the event.”

Mr Muir said the council would be reviewing how the event can grow in years to come, including possible expansion along Main Street. 

“In order to grow the event part of our planning will be seeking additional sponsorship so hopefully that will be able to happen.”