By: Anastasia Marchese
The Downtown Denville Business Improvement District is excited to once again be organizing their annual autumn event, Pink Witches Night Out.
This event predates the Business Improvement District however, which was started in 2016. According to Ryan Gleason, Executive Director of Downtown Denville, The Pink Witches Night Out is a “girls night out for a cause” and was initially spearheaded by Meg and Cait Olenowski. The Olenowski sisters are business partners and the owners of two neighboring downtown shops, Sisters and Surprises in Store. This girls night out event has now been going on for a number of years with the Olenowski sisters still taking an active role in making this fun and enjoyable event a reality.
This year Meg Olenowski is the chairperson for the event and her sister Cait is one of the committee members, along with Jennifer Fox (owner of Dash of Thyme), Danielle Grayson of Downtown Denville, Rosemary Linder Day of the Lakeland Hills YMCA and Brandy Johnson of Saint Clare’s Hospital.
Gleason lauded all the hard work and diligence of the Committee Members and the huge time commitment that it takes to bring off this event. “It really is one of the most fun events of the year,” said Gleason. He is pleased that the vast majority of businesses in the designated Downtown Denville Business District participate.
This year, St. Clare’s Hospital is once again the presenting sponsor of the event, continuing their role from last year. Many other local businesses and organizations provide support as well. Saint Francis Residential Community is sponsoring a photo booth and each year the stores and restaurants in the downtown area have different promotions and giveaways to keep the event fresh and exciting. “The businesses get really creative with it,” said Gleason.
At 4:00 p.m. the fun will start with many restaurants offering a Pink Witches Happy Hour, featuring pink themed drinks as well as food specials. Registration for the event opens at 5:30 p.m. with most businesses starting their promotions, specials, and giveaways shortly thereafter.
Each year the Pink Witches event committee selects a charitable organization dealing with cancer related issues, which will receive the proceeds from the event. They especially look to support local organizations. This year’s charity is the Cancer Hope Network, located in Chester.
This organization provides “free one-on-one emotional support to adult cancer patients and their loved ones.” Participants in the program are matched with cancer survivors and caregivers on a number of factors. These people are Support Volunteers who as a group have dealt with over 80 different types of cancer, so people can speak with a volunteer who truly understands the ins and outs of their particular kind of cancer. Also personality, religious preferences, lifestyle choices and personal interests can all be taken into consideration when trying to find the right match. They support cancer patients anywhere from “diagnosis, through treatment and into survivorship.” Their mission is unique and can be so helpful to individuals as they navigate the life changing effects of cancer.
Each year the announcement of the charity which will be sponsored is weighed thoughtfully and the announcement is not made until September.
The Downtown Denville Business Improvement District started sponsoring the Pink Witches Night Out after the Denville Chamber of Commerce closed its doors in 2017. Business Improvement Districts (BID) are on the rise in the US as many local businesses strive to bring people to shop in their own local downtown district. Downtown areas are finding new ways to work together to encourage local commerce and Denville shop owners are very invested in the success of the downtown area. Instead of paying dues, an additional tax is levied on property and business owners in the designated downtown area. These funds are then turned around to help the business thrive by beautifying the streets, doing additional landscaping, planning events that promote local businesses and advertising for the downtown district. Downtown Denville sponsors between 8-9 events a year, with most months having an event, unless there is already a large community event planned by another group. September had the Dine Out Denville event; November has Small Business Saturday as well as the Annual Holiday Open House. October has the Pink Witches event.
To organize these events the business owners work together to make it a success and use these opportunities to highlight their particular goods and services. Downtown Denville has so much to offer. There are 40 retail shops, 23 restaurants, 19 salons and spas and 38 medical and/or dental offices. There are also music studios, grocery and specialty shops, not to mention the various professional services, kids activities and financial establishments. The Downtown Denville website has a list of all the district members and is a great resource to find out about all things local.
Gleason is the business district’s first Executive Director and is very positive about the impact of business and property owners working together through this model to help the downtown area thrive. “The members are invested in it. That has a lot to do with the success of events like Pink Witches Night Out and contributes to the hard work and creativity of all the people involved, committee members, business owners and sponsors alike.”
In previous years, businesses have had pink giveaways, pink gift bags, raffles and pink promotions. Spas or salons sometimes have chair massages available as well as free samples. The majority of business on Broadway, Diamond Spring Rd, East and West Main Street, First Avenue and Bloomfield Avenue take part. Saint Clare’s Hospital will have a big tent set up at the clock tower.
“We are very excited to have St. Clare’s as the presenting sponsor again this year,” said Gleason.
This event is not only a lot of fun for the women who turn out in their pink witch hats and shoes, but also a great way for the local businesses to give back to their community. This event is typically Downtown Denville’s largest of the year, with an average turnout of 800-900 people registered to participate. This year the event is scheduled for Thursday, October 17, between the hours of 5:30-9 p.m. The tickets are $15.00 per person and can be preordered online through the Downtown Denville Facebook page or purchased the day of the event at Pure Barre at 20 West Main Street.