Business is spooky, thanks to some artistic kids

Annual window painting event livens up storefronts along Johnson, Riverdale avenues just in time for Halloween season

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They did it again.

With the air starting to cool down, and the leaves on trees beginning to turn, members from the Kiwanis Club of Riverdale pulled out the brushes and the paint, setting children loose onto businesses on Johnson and Riverdale avenues to get storefront windows ready for Halloween.

It’s now the 63rd time children between 5 and 14 were invited to participate in the free event that not only gave the youngsters a chance to express themselves, but businesses a chance to get into the Halloween spirit with their own themed windows.

The kids also had a chance to earn prizes, including the top three works of art as selected by judges, as well as the window deemed the spookiest.

“We really appreciate all of the businesses participating and bringing our community together,” said Farrah Rubin, co-president of Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy’s parent association. “They helped us make the community a bit more festive and get the children involved.”

The RKA organization worked with both the Kiwanis and Key clubs, as well as with their parent association counterparts from the Bronx High School of Science. Key Club allows students to get involved and give back to their community through service and outreach programs. Students and faculty members from both RKA and Bronx Science volunteered by painting windows and helping younger children with supplies.

“We had at least 50 businesses participating this year,” said Bob Rubinstein, the local Kiwanis vice president. “The merchants love doing it, and so do we as a club and organization. Seeing the children so excited to paint, there’s nothing like it.”

Riverdale Press founder David Stein started the window painting event in 1956 in an attempt to get public school children involved in the community. Traditionally, the artwork was created on a nice Saturday in October. But because Saturday is the Sabbath for some religions, the Kiwanis Club decided to move the event to a Sunday.

Members also changed the event’s name from “Halloween Painting Contest” to the “Autumn Window Painting Contest.”

RKA sophomore Alex Buggie painted a jack-o-lantern she hoped would bring out the Halloween spirit to everyone who passes by.

“It was a fun activity to do,” she said. “It really brought out Halloween in our community.”

Bronx Science freshman Fateema Akter just wanted a chance to make things even better for those shopping along Johnson and Riverdale avenues this time of year.

“I hope those who pass by the windows see we are trying to make this place a bit more brighter,” she said.

The window painting contest is a kid-friendly event the neighborhood cherishes, said Nadine Andre, an RKA teacher and Key Club advisor. “It really is a community effort, and a great way for students in the public schools to get involved in the community and do something creative.”

The Kiwanis Club starts preparing for the event in August, starting with getting neighborhood businesses involved. Then it’s attracting the children, which usually generates a solid weekend turnout.

“The kids love painting and being creative,” Rubenstein said. “It looked like they had a lot of fun. That shows in their paintings.”

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