By Cecelia Ellis
For The Republic
Sweet Street will take place on Halloween Night, Sunday, Oct. 31 in downtown North Vernon. Thousands of ghosts, goblins and other creatures are expected to join in the fun.
The event will begin at 5 p.m. and end at 8 p.m.
Sweet Street will be held in North Vernon’s Stellar Plaza, the area surrounded by Madison Avenue, Short Street and Fifth Street.
A Jennings County tradition since 1997, Sweet Street was originally started by the First Christian Church as a safe alternative for Halloween trick-or-treat activities for children in Grade 6 and younger.
The event has always been free. Originally designed for members of the church’s youth programs, it has been open to the general public since the year 2000.
From the beginning, children were encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes and participate in games and compete for prizes.
Business leaders, community organizations and volunteers gave donations for the event and helped pass out free food and candy.
As time passed, Sweet Street morphed into family fun for around 4,000 participants each year.
Sweet Street became too large for the church to handle without causing interference with their other missions.
The North Vernon Mayor’s Office assumed responsibility for the popular event in 2019.
“Even COVID did not stop Sweet Street. There hasn’t been an interruption since it started,” said Gloria Robbins, a member of the First Christian Church who helped start the original Sweet Street.
Like many other members of First Christian Church, Robbins continues to volunteer to help keep Sweet Street going now that it is operated by the City of North Vernon.
“I am the one in charge of making sure Sweet Street stays in line with all the CDC safety requirements. We are going to have hand-washing stations around and have ordered the right amount of port-a-potties for the streets. All the volunteers will be masked and we are encouraging our guests to wear their masks. We made it through COVID last year without any major problems, and I am confident we will be successful this year too,” said Robbins.
According to Robbins, there are already 34 vendors who have signed up for booths. Free candy will be passed out at each booth.
There will also be free hot dogs, potato chips and water for everyone.
The North Vernon Police Department, the Sheriff’s Department and various Fire Departments will be present to ensure safety during Sweet Street.
Lee-Lee Ernstes, an assistant at the mayor’s office said, “We are getting a lot of phone calls about Sweet Street. It’s still possible to register for a booth or to volunteer to help during the event.”