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Halloween tradition's resurrection takes hold

Windows of Clintonville businesses will sport spooky art again this year after long hiatus

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It's a tradition once again.

The once-thriving practice of local high school students painting the windows of Clintonville businesses for Halloween, revived in 2012, returns this year.

The Clintonville Halloween Hop is set for Oct. 26, although the first business window was scheduled to be painted this week, said Mary Rodgers, president of the Clintonville Historical Society.

The society puts on the event, sponsored by the Ann Hobson Foundation.

Founded by local businessman Jason Janoski and named for his late aunt, who was an artist and art teacher, the foundation is designed to promote arts programs in schools.

Bringing back a tradition that died out in the late 1970s was the foundation's first fundraising effort in 2012.

Last year, more than 40 students from arts programs at Bishop Watterson High School, Whetstone High School, the Graham School and what was then Columbus International High School painted 32 storefronts with "scary, funny, creative fall themes," Rodgers said.

This time around, Whetstone, Bishop Watterson and Graham School students are signed on, and Rodgers said last week she hopes to make contact with the arts teacher at the renamed Columbus North International School to urge its budding artists to participate.

As of last week, 14 business owners, mainly between Como Avenue and Dunedin Road, had agreed to donate funds for the supplies students will need to paint the windows. More may sign on.

"We've got a really good collection, I think," Rodgers said.

"This is a service-learning project for the art programs," Janoski said in a statement. "Through collaboration, the students and merchants get to learn a little more about each other and the students get a taste of what it takes to be a professional artist, to deliver a product that meets an objective and deliver it on time, and they get some funds in return.

"It's an excellent opportunity for students to connect with the business community.

"The neighborhood loved it last year, the kids grew and we were able to deliver about $2,500 to these programs. This precisely meets the mission of the foundation."

Rodgers said the goal was "to reignite the long-lost tradition of painting storefront windows here in Clintonville.

"It went so smoothly last year that the students and teachers approached us to see when we were going to get started this year."

"I think this is unbelievable," the historical society president said in an interview. "All I really have to do is walk into somebody's business and they're like, 'I'm in.' Doing something like this, it's very exciting.

"In fact, I've been asked by several of the schools if they could do other projects with the businesses. I will put some mental power to see if we can come up with something."

Given the success of last year's event and how eager participants have been this time around, Rodgers held out the possibility of expanding the Halloween Hop in the future to include middle school and possibly even elementary school students.

The Halloween Hop will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 26 on the stretch of High Street from Weber to Dunedin roads. Many of the businesses involved will hold special promotions that day, with some staying open late into the evening.

Donation boxes outside the shops that have their windows painted collect funds for the arts programs at participating schools, with the Ann Hobson Foundation matching a portion of that amount, according to the announcement from Rodgers.

These "ballot boxes" will be counted at 4 p.m. Oct. 26 and the People's Choice winner will be announced on Halloween.

"It's very inspiring to see how excited people get about doing something like this," Rodgers said. "The kids like it. The businesses like it. I hope the community comes out and takes a look at this and put some money in the donation jars for the kids."

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