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Scarecrows move into Seymour for the season

October 8, 2018

SEYMOUR— Rita Tessitore looked out her storefront’s window idly, watching traffic on Bank Street.

Then one car stopped, backed up, parked and a man approached Charlies’ Treasure, whipped out his phone and snapped a picture.

“I’m thinking, ‘what is he doing?’” store owner Tessitore said.

Then she remembered.

Hanging in front of her store is a scarecrow dressed as a 1960s flower child — stringy long hair, granny glasses on the nose, a medallion and wearing a rainbow colored shirt — the work of Tessitore’s 10-year-old daughter, Annabelle.

Around downtown these days are scarecrows with more on their minds than field pests: Princess Leia battles Darth Vader in front of Karen Fisher’s law office; outside Jimmie’s Place on Main Street hangs a chef, his apron bloodied from the pigs’ feet stuffed in his pocket.

At Andrew Kurjanowicz’s dentistry office hangs a surgical masked dentist with John Choppers’ X-Rays in one pocket and mouthwash, a toothbrush and toothpaste in the other. Staff Works has a businessman; the Post Office has a letter carrier; Mike Hobal, a land planner, has a surveyor, and outside Tea With Tracy, a female scarecrow holds a tea cup.

Charley Brown, Mary Poppins, Superman and a Pizza Man relax, hang or are propped up in front of other businesses.

“Thirty six in all,” said Judith Simpson, Seymour Culture and Arts chairman. “This is our second year of introducing scarecrows around the downtown. Last year, we had 22. We’re hoping for more next year.”

Simpson said the commission provides the frame and the pumpkin head. The rest is up to the merchants’ imagination.

“The storeowners can do what they want,” she said.

Last year, Mike Skrtic, a commission board member and artist, dressed his offering as a scary crow.

“It might have been a little too intense,” he confessed. So this year, he has a fat honeybee sitting in front of his Glass Source offices.

“It’s got to weigh 30 pounds. I probably spent most of the day crumbling up newspaper to stuff inside,” he said.

Lynn Giardina, who owns Hair by Lynn, pulled out an old Halloween costume and dressed her scarecrow as a disco queen.

“I think its a great idea,” said Giardina. “Everybody loves them. People stop and have their picture (taken) with them.”

Simpson said the idea of a main street scarecrow community developed out of conversations aimed at ways of dressing the downtown for fall that coincide with the annual Pumpkin Festival and Halloween march.

Letters go out to the merchants in August. Orders are placed with the frame maker and in early September the frame and pumpkin are handed out.

Margie Madore, who recently opened Grace House Antiques, dressed her scarecrow up with a Virgin Island theme: sun glasses, a straw hat and white and black dreadlocks.

“The island was devastated by two hurricanes in 2017,” said Madore. “Whatever I make in the store, I send back to the Virgin Islands.”

The scarecrows are not the only Halloween magic in town. On Oct. 20, Seymour Culture and Arts is bringing in the Naugatuck Community Band to perform a free Spooky Concert at Seymour Middle School beginning at 7 p.m.

On Oct. 27 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. is the Halloween March around downtown led by the Seymour Middle School band. At the end of the march, trick or treaters are invited into stores for free candy.

“We had over 800 kids last year,” Skrtic said.

“(U.S. Rep.) Rosa DeLauro usually shows up with her grandchildren,” Simpson said.

The scarecrows will come down on Nov. 4 to mark the beginning of the Christmas season with the annual Christmas Main Street parade followed by Santa by train on Dec. 1 when the tree is lit at the American Legion Post. The Post Office will be accepting letters written to Santa beginning then.

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