HANFORD — Downtown was so busy Friday night that locals were hard-pressed to find a place to park their broomsticks.
Downtown streets were crowded with enchantresses and warlocks for Main Street Hanford’s annual Witches Night Out event.
“There was a good energy in the air,” Main Street Hanford executive director Michelle Brown said, adding that the she was “extremely pleased” with the success of this year’s event.
The downtown costume party and shopping spree, now in its eighth year, is an event wherein ticketholders get bags full of local goodies and exclusive access to local businesses.
“The shops did an incredible job this year,” Brown said. “It was a homerun.”
Brown credits the dozens of volunteers and extra security with making this year’s event such a big success. In previous years, party crashers without tickets were overcrowding businesses and making the event difficult to navigate, Brown said. The added security this year alleviated those troubles and left the businesses — and their deals — browser-friendly.
The event organizer said that all 1,200 tickets to the event sold out in only two days.
Brown also credited the good weather, saying that October is great for downtown events due to it being just about the only month on the calendar that Hanford has perfect weather.
The sidewalks of downtown were crawling with witches of every type — locals dressed up as green-skinned classics straight from Oz, new wave naturalist covens and some groups of friends just came in matching shirts announcing their bonds of sisterhood.
“The event gives women a chance to let their hair down with their girlfriends,” Brown said.
And that’s exactly what Anne Wilson and friends were doing Friday night.
“I’ve been waiting all year for this. This town does so much for its citizens,” Wilson said. “There are so many community things. I love it here. “I’ve lived all over the world and I would not leave this town,” she said.
Wilson has lived in Hanford for four years, moving in from the Bay Area with her husband.
In addition to the shop-hopping, the Hanford Chamber of Commerce hosted a Witches Night Out after-party on the steps of the Old Courthouse. Drinks were served, DJs provided music and there were even some surprises in the form of a flash mob dressed in LED light-up masks straight out of a “Purge” movie.
Masked members of the Hanford Multicultural Theater Company took to the dance floor and DJ booth, scooping witches and anyone else on the dance floor up for impromptu rug-cutting.
“We had a blast and at the end, while most went home, the rest of us decided to [stay and] dance with Joey the DJ,” HMTC artistic director Silvia Gonzalez Scherer said.
Just a jump to the left of the after-party, cult movie fans were getting a treat over at the Frankenstein place.
Hundreds filled the auditorium for the second annual screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” many of them were not content to simply “dream it” and decided to “be it” by dressing up as their favorite “Rocky” characters. Dr. Franks and Riff Raffs were mixed among the crowd with witches that came in from the night out, as well as others who came dressed to impress in pajamas and lingerie.
Brown said that that one of the reasons the event, and Halloween in general, has become so popular in Hanford is because “people just like to dress up.”