“Even if it snows, never underestimate the power of chocolate.”
Those were the words of Krista Clark, program assistant for Main Street Portsmouth, back on Jan. 22 as she talked about the possibilities of a successful Main Street Chocolate Walk.
The third annual event was held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday on Chillicothe Street and all along the length of Second Street From Chillicothe to the Scioto River bridge.
The weather was cold, rainy and windy for the first three hours before the sun finally broke through for a short time.
Even so, during the first two hours of the event, it was difficult to find a parking place on Chillicothe Street from the end of Grant Bridge north to Seventh Street, and here and there knots of people, each carrying a brown paper bag, made their way along the sidewalks visiting one store after the other.
The same was true on Second Street through the Boneyfiddle area, from Chillicothe Street west to the Washington House, and in the Market Street Square.
Helen Singleton, owner of Helen’s Bakery on the square, said for one reason or the other she didn’t get signed up for this year’s Chocolate Walk.
But she said she benefited from the crowd that came to visit the four neighboring businesses on the square who did participate.
“One of the best Saturdays we’ve had in sales,” she said about 1 p.m.
At Market Street Hardware, next door to the bakery, owner Mark Harris said he sold out of advance tickets early and sent at least a dozen people to Portsmouth Feed & Seed, one of four locations where the $5 tickets were available only on Saturday. The other three were Morgan Brothers Jewelers, Port City Cafe and Pub and the Boneyfiddle Arts Center.
Ron Riepenhoff, clerk at Market Street Hardware, said nearly 100 had visited the store by 1 p.m. to collect a treat of chocolate cake or candy.
Advance tickets were available at about a dozen other stores.
Clark said they hoped to sell 300 tickets for this year’s Walk, about 100 more than last year.
Proceeds go to help the downtown and historic Boneyfiddle districts, which encompass roughly the area from the Scioto River east to Gay Street and the Ohio River north to 11th Street. The goal of Main Street Portsmouth is to promote these areas as the destination to live, work and play, while preserving their historic integrity.
“This is a good opportunity for people to come downtown on a Saturday, have a fun time, enjoy the taste of chocolate, and discover shops they might never have been in,” Clark said.
Only those with a ticket, who also received the brown collection bags, were able to receive the special Chocolate Walk treats from participating merchants, who totaled about 30. They handed out various chocolate treats, including candy hearts, brownies, hot chocolate, chocolate-dipped pretzels, chocolate cake, deep-fried Snickers bars.
“We’ve visited them all already,” said Florence Crump of South Shore as she and friends Sue Mullins and Robin Riley, also of South Shore, made their way along the sidewalk on Second Street. “We got some pretty good chocolate, too, including grommet chocolate from Diamond Gem.”
“It’s like trick or treat in February, only for adults,” Riley said.
They had bought their tickets in advance at Market Street Hardware.
Well over 100 had called at Ye Olde Lantern restaurant by 1 p.m., said waitress Ladonna Miller. “We handed out dome chocolate candy and also some ice cream striped with chocolate.”
About a dozen people had seated themselves in the restaurant and appeared to be ordering the $5.88 Mexican luncheon special.
Out on Chillicothe Street, Diana Geary, along with her teenage daughters, Emily and Sarah, and her daughters’ friend, also named Sarah, stood in a light rain and checked their map showing which businesses were taking part.
“I heard about it (the Chocolate Walk) on the radio and went to Morgan Brothers just now to get our tickets. We’ve sort of just been following the other people,” Geary said before guiding the girls into the Goodwill Book Store.
Melissa Slone, a clerk there, said they had had more than 80 people with tickets come in for a chocolate treat.
“And its just 12:45,” she said.
Advance tickets for the event were sold at Morgan Brothers Jewelers, B Sweete Chocolaterie, Smith’s Drugs, Mr. Binn’s Antiques, Portsmouth Feed & Supply, Remember When Antiques, Ye Olde Lantern, Alterations and More, Lil’s Quilt Shop, HopeWorks, Boneyfiddle Arts Center, Primitive Corner, Southern Ohio Museum and Market Street Hardware.
Participating businesses included Market Street Café, Ghosts in the Attic, Journey Within, Port City Café & Pub, Goodwill Bookstore, Staker’s Drugs, Diamond Gem Lending, Boneyfiddle Boutique, Tootsie’s and Cirque d’Art.
New this year was a children’s art activity.
Rain, wind and a threat of snow returned for the last hour of the event.
It was a bad day for going store to store, but, all things considered, it appeared as though it turned out to be a good day for the 2011 Main Street Chocolate Walk.