Friends Lori Liska, Elaine Coats and Beth and Meg Beatty stood outside the Foundry Kitchen & Tavern, eager to add another stamp to their passports for the third annual Passport to Sandy Hook event. Their children tagged along nearby.
"I don't get out and walk around a lot in town," said Coats. "But this event is really getting me to do it."
Liska said she loved seeing the vendors and people streaming out along Church Hill Road and up Glen Road and Washington Street. Traffic often came to a standstill during the afternoon, as Sandy Hook businesses opened their doors and encouraged patrons to stamp off their passports for the chances to win prizes (valued at a total of $3,150.)
It was the third annual Passport to Sandy Hook event, with businesses in the neighborhood sprucing up their displays to attract the crowds of potential customers.
Porco's Karate Studio owner Mike Porco Jr. said the event was "well-planned and organized" by coordinators.
"The social media and marketing worked," he said. "And we're not attributing that to past events. The new tenants are here, and Sandy Hook is turning the corner. This is a great stepping stone in the right direction, and every event coming after this is going to be another step — our Christmas Tree lighting will be the best event of the year."
One new business was on display — Migrant Salon, a lower-level gallery whose formal introduction to the Sandy Hook public will be a group exhibition of local and regional artists called "Purpose," opening Oct. 18 with a reception from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The Passport series was presented by S.H.O.P. — the Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity — with more than 30 merchants contributing to the prize packages. Sandy Hook Fire and Rescue held a canned food drive concurrent to the event, stuffing food in a fire truck behind 102 Church Hill Rd.
Prior to the event, Food Pantry director Lee Paulson credited firefighters and business organizations for their efforts.
"This time of year – before we get to the holiday season – is especially tough on us," he said. "We truly appreciate S.H.O.P. and Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue working together to help us out."