Downtown businesses expect crowds for homecoming weekend

Lydia Coutré

KentWired Video

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Video by Macy McMaster.

Businesses in downtown Kent hope to see an increase in customers as Homecoming Weekend draws alumni, family and others to the city.

“Any event that starts to bring people into the downtown area is always a good thing for businesses,” said Kyle Buckley, manager for Off the Wagon. “And we’re right at the front of Acorn Alley, so hopefully that kind of draws people in.”

Brett Howell, server and bartender at Ray’s Place, located on Franklin Avenue, said the restaurant is expecting a “very large crowd.”

“It’s usually the busiest weekend of the year,” Howell said. “It usually has Halloween beat, actually.”

Walter Angeli, day shift and Friday night manager at Guys Pizza on South Water Street, said he worked a busy Homecoming last year.

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“It started picking up about noon,” Angeli said. “I could see all the kids were out drinking. At about 3 p.m., which is not a typical time for people to be wasted, a kid came in here with that woozy look and ended up puking everywhere.”

But Angeli said Homecoming isn’t nearly as big as Halloween for the pizzeria.

“Halloween is a madhouse,” he said. “It is probably the craziest day we have here besides Super Bowl Sunday.”

Angeli said Guys doesn’t plan to add anyone extra to handle the Homecoming crowd.

Buckley, on the other hand, said Halloween has Homecoming beat for his business.

“It’s one of those things where you get a lot of people in — for our type of shop, anyways — you get a lot of people in last minute buying little add-ons to their costumes and stuff like that,” Buckley said. “So I think that’s probably a portion of what drives that day more so than Homecoming.”

Angela Delbrocco, sales associate at The Works, worked at Off the Wagon last year during Homecoming. She said she thinks Homecoming is bigger than Halloween, “probably just because there’s more students just coming down for a specific event, for the parade.”

She said she noticed the biggest crowd in between the parade and the football game.

“I think we’ll get more people in, more traffic — hopefully more sales,” said Delbrocco.

Carl Picelle, Franklin Square Deli owner, said Halloween doesn’t have any impact on them, but Homecoming is a large weekend for the deli. He said he likes to advertise that people don’t come back for Homecoming or for the game, but rather to get a meal at the deli.

“You develop quite a depth in clientele in 28 years — a lot of width with your new people, but the depth is what’s really important,” Picelle said. “And to see these people come back and see ex-employees come back is cool. It really is.”

Contact Lydia Coutré at [email protected].