Customers hit the ‘Open Road’ to mark end of construction with block party from Secor Road businesses

10/20/2013
BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Aleka Bassett stamps a paper at Bassett’s Health Foods during the Secor Open Road Party, which included a Halloween costume contest, a cornhole tournament, and live music.
Aleka Bassett stamps a paper at Bassett’s Health Foods during the Secor Open Road Party, which included a Halloween costume contest, a cornhole tournament, and live music.

For months, businesses and residents contended with the Secor Road construction project, but on Saturday they celebrated its completion.

Margaret Zotkiewicz, who lives just off the busy commercial strip that is Secor between Central Avenue and Monroe Street, brought her daughter Claire Hite, 8, to the Secor Open Road Party. The event, sponsored by The Blade, Sears, the city of Toledo, and Westgate Village, marked the return of free-flowing traffic and served as a way for area companies to connect with customers.

“It was worth it,” Ms. Zotkiewicz said of the $5.4 million project that began in March and wrapped up in early September. “It [had] to be done. It looks great, and I’m pretty proud that it got done early.”

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Project contractor Geddis Paving & Excavating of Toledo will get a 10 percent bonus for finishing before the city’s Nov. 1 deadline.

Cooperative weather and aggressive work scheduling helped beat the project deadline. The weather, however, put a slight damper on the block party Saturday afternoon.

Mike Mori, an event organizer and advertising director at The Blade, said musical performances were scheduled for later Saturday evening, when the weather was expected to have cleared considerably, and noted more than 30 teams signed up for a cornhole tournament that took place under a tent in a parking lot near Elder-Beerman.

Claire Hite, 8, who is dressed as a Victorian lady, smiles after winning the
Claire Hite, 8, who is dressed as a Victorian lady, smiles after winning the "scariest costume" category during the costume contest at the "Secor Open Road Party" on October 19, 2013.

Raindrops didn’t keep Ms. Zotkiewicz and other parents away from the event’s Halloween costume contest for children. Her daughter was among about 15 children who entered the contest, which included Taylor Swift and Michael Jackson look-alikes, clowns, and an owl.

Caiden Larimer, 6, of Rossford came dressed as a tire guy. His father, Mike Larimer, used a razor knife to cut armholes into a car tire, creating a unique, if a tad heavy, costume.

Mr. Larimer said he’s a frequent Costco shopper who took various routes during construction season to avoid the worst of the orange-barrel inconvenience. Now that it’s complete, navigation is definitely easier, he said.

Partygoers had a chance to collect “passport” stamps by visiting participating businesses and retailers to be entered into a prize drawing.

Bassett’s Health Foods on Secor was among the stores stamping passports, and owner Pat Bassett said the promotion drew in people. The health-foods store has had a location in the area for 44 years and has been at its present Secor location for about seven years, she said.

The roadwork “definitely hurt us,” she said. Some dedicated customers went to the store’s other location on Heatherdowns Boulevard, while others shopped elsewhere. During those months of construction, business was “absolutely slower” and is now picking up “little by little,” Ms. Bassett said.

Ms. Zotkiewicz said she patronizes the restaurants and retailers in the area and appreciated the opportunity to celebrate alongside others.

“We need to have more neighborhood events ... more walking-friendly events,” she said.