A Conversation With Lisa Field

Lisa Field, president of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce and owner of the Sag Harbor Variety Store. Christine Sampson photo

In the spirit of Halloween, the Chamber of Commerce has planned its annual Ragamuffin Parade and Pumpkin Trail activities for the Main Street business district. Lisa Field, the chamber’s president, spoke to The Express about the traditions and why the Chamber of Commerce got involved in Halloween.

First of all, let’s talk about Halloween in general. How much fun is this holiday? Can you share a great memory from Halloweens past in Sag Harbor?

Halloween in Sag Harbor really is a huge event. Halloween in general has become more of an event than when we were children. It’s not just about kids dressing up and going trick or treating. Obviously, that’s still a big part of it. It’s really about showing off the costumes. What I’ve noticed is the number of families who participate and you’ll find a lot of group costumes. There’s a theme. It takes a fun holiday to the next level. There’s this one family, I’m not sure what they’re doing this year, but one year they came as spaghetti and meatballs. One year they did the solar system. I don’t even know who they are, but I look for them every year and I wonder what they’re going to come up with.

Why does the Chamber feel it’s important to offer something to the community for Halloween?

Everything we do is business related. That is the purpose of the Chamber, to bring business to the village. When you’re promoting an event such as this, the hope is that you’re bringing in people who maybe wouldn’t be there that day. Maybe they’ll grab something to eat or buy something. The bigger picture really is for the whole business district, to show off. This is Sag Harbor, this is who we are, come here, shop here. It was back in the 1990s when the Chamber started with the Pumpkin Trail, when we said we’re going to open our doors and provide a safe place for kids to go door-to-door trick or treating. The reason business owners like this is they hope parents will come in and say, ‘Hey I didn’t know we had this store, I didn’t know they sold that, we’re going to come back here.’ It’s the bigger picture.

Can you talk about the Ragamuffin Parade?

It’s on Sunday, October 28, starting at 1 p.m. at Nassau Street near the laundromat. We’ll line up between 12:30 and 12:45. The police shut down the street, which is nice. Years ago, [Sag Harbor Express staff photographer] Michael Heller took this amazing photo – all you could see on Main Street was just families, costumes and kids. It lasts maybe half an hour. We walk to the Custom House. The last few years, the Bridgehampton School has worked with us and set up a family friendly carnival with some games and activities. The past couple of years there’s been a DJ with music for the kids. They run around, show off their costumes and have fun. It kind of gets you excited for Halloween. This started probably 20 years ago as something the Sag Harbor Elementary PTA used to do. They transitioned to doing a parade on Halloween, so the Chamber stepped in about 15 years ago when they stepped out of doing it on the weekend. We said it’s something we do want people to come and enjoy.

Tell me about the Pumpkin Trail.

That’s coming close on 30 years. I remember it was 1991, the year I got out of college, and I immediately got involved in the Chamber when I got back here and got involved in the family business. There was a scare in the news with the Halloween candy about people tainting the candy. It started there and it just evolved. We have a little pumpkin sign and we give out those to the businesses that want to participate. The kids know to look for it. It’s always on Halloween, it’s from 3 to 5 p.m., and you get to see your customers and your friends. And it’s not just Sag Harbor. Kids come from other towns. It makes you realize that Sag Harbor is this really great town and there’s a lot of community around it.

For more information on Sag Harbor Halloween events or the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce, visit sagharborchamber.com.