2014-10-09 / Columns

Something is brewing on Halloween in Northport

A column by
Mike Spencer

The Northport Village Council got an offer it couldn’t refuse last week and it wasn’t the $2 million golf course Bill Collins donated.

At the time, it seemed like a nice and somewhat harmless gesture on the part of Karl Wizinsky and Scott Cain, owners of the one of the newest businesses in town. But is it?

Last Thursday, the two business partners offered and the council accepted the use of their property that almost abuts the village office on Nagonaba Street for Halloween.

Trick or treat as they say. If we were all adults, I’d say, free beer and brats. What a way to paint the town. I’d even put on a costume for that.

But the annual Halloween night party sponsored by the village government is about a warm hot dog or brat, chips and cider for kids and adults ... at least it’s been that way for years.

We’ll just have to wait to see how the new gig goes down at the Northport Brewery, the new pub in town which has six taps and a variety of bottled brews available.

During the clerk’s report at the regular council meeting, village officials went through the formality of passing around a sign-up sheet to get trustees to volunteer time slots for the night, from prep times to feeding and then clean up.

The volunteer list wasn’t really needed after the council heard from Cain that they’d even provide the hot dogs, a grill and a refrigerator, and clean up the mess afterwards. And, as an added bonus, North End Eatery had offered to bring over their pizza oven.

The council, without much comment, agreed to accept the free lunch or dinner or whatever else is offered.

On the surface, having a new business in town extend a hand to help the community celebrate the festive night that usually includes trick-or-treating, attending costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted house attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories and watching horror films, seems like a win-win situation.

Now there are murmurs among a handful of villagers that maybe exposing youngsters or teenagers to Halloween at a brewery may not be a good thing, especially at an event sponsored by the village government.

Usually I’m not one to write political columns. To be honest, I really don’t like politics. I’m in my element at an athletic arena. The village beat is just part of my job, along with being copy editor, taking photos and covering some sports and writing features.

And at first word, I didn’t think that much about the idea of a Halloween party for kids at a brewery.

But now I’m having second thoughts, and maybe the council should, too.

With all the problems today with kids being exposed to drinking at an early age, what kind of impression will they get from trick or treating at this new venue.

I don’t know if alcohol will be served in the dark hours on Friday, Oct. 31. But if there’s some around and something bad happens, the village will need a new insurance carrier.

I believe the brewery had the best interests of the village in mind, opening up their doors and patio to potential new clientele. And when Barb VonVoigtlander, the village president announced that she had a “generous offer” from the folks at Northport Brewery, there was no argument among trustees.

By the way, the Northport Brewery is hosting a pumpkin carving contest that night in conjunction with the food and frolic. Pumpkins can be dropped off on the patio where they will be judged.

After the council agreed by consensus that the move to the brewery was a “great offer,” I began to think about my old trick-or-treating days in Bay City.

And while we had what I would say was a “bar on every corner,” growing up, I don’t recall mom packing up my five brothers and two sisters and saying, “Kids we're going to the bar tonight for some trick-or-treating.”

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For many years, the area

For many years, the area referred to as the "Patio" at what is now Northport Brewing was the pseudo VILLAGE GREEN of Northport. That area between the buildings, next to the alley was where folks met up, listened to speeches, hung out, and teenagers sat in their cars and just watched people go by. Now it has evolved into an outdoor dinning area for a booming new business in town. I think it is delightful that the owners would offer the space for the traditional hot dog dinner, for a few hours. What a nice civic gesture! I understand the village “fathers” at the recent meeting accepted the offer willingly. I further understand that the subject of beer being sold was also brought up after the meeting (maybe Mr. Spencer was not in earshot) and the owners offered to close off the patio during the children's party or even not sell beer during that two hour period. It just seems that Mr. Spencer is throwing a wet blanket on a wonderful gesture by a new local enterprise.

For many years, the area

For many years, the area referred to as the "Patio" at what is now Northport Brewing was the pseudo VILLAGE GREEN of Northport. That area between the buildings, next to the alley was where folks met up, listened to speeches, hung out, and teenagers sat in their cars and just watched people go by. Now it has evolved into an outdoor dinning area for a booming new business in town. I think it is delightful that the owners would offer the space for the traditional hot dog dinner, for a few hours. What a nice civic gesture! I understand the village “fathers” at the recent meeting accepted the offer willingly. I further understand that the subject of beer being sold was also brought up after the meeting (maybe Mr. Spencer was not in earshot) and the owners offered to close off the patio during the children's party or even not sell beer during that two hour period. It just seems that Mr. Spencer is throwing a wet blanket on a wonderful gesture by a new local enterprise.

Dear Mike, Thank you for your

Dear Mike, Thank you for your thoughtful opinion in this weeks copy of the Enterprise regarding Northport village leaders decision to serve hot dogs on the Northport Brewing patio during our Halloween activities rather than the village parking lot next door. Being a parent of two small children, as well as a volunteer coach to an exceptional team of U8 soccer players in the Leelanau soccer club, I am an advocate of always providing a safe and healthy environment to all the younger members of our beloved community. And with that said, we agree that there is a delicate line between a children’s event such as Halloween and the nature of the product that Northport Brewing manufactures. The patio located at 112 W. Nagonaba St. is and has long been used by the community as a gathering spot to many similar holiday activities. As stewards of this location, Northport Brewing wishes to keep our patio available to the greater public for special events and holidays. Northport Brewing’s policy is to partition our tap room and patio during the hours in which such events are taking place. This will mean that no beer will be sold or consumed on the patio during the hours of special community events. To be clear, on Friday October 31st “Halloween,” Northport Brewing will host our village leaders while they serve free hot dogs and cider on our patio from 5-7pm. Your column stated that free beer would be available. This is illegal and was never proposed. During these hours the tap room will be segregated from the patio and our patrons will not be allowed to consume beer on the patio. This was decided after the village meeting on Thursday October 2nd when Barb Von Voightlander reached out to Northport Brewing bringing the concerns of a few Northport residents present at the meeting. The partners of Northport Brewing thank the community for their continued support. Warmest Regards, Scott Cain Partner, Brewer, and Manager of Business operations. Northport Brewing Taproom (231) 386-1101 Cell: (773) 230-5174 scottcain@npbrewing.com

Fair and balanced assesment

Fair and balanced assesment of the situation. Error on the side of caution and hold the official traditional Halloween gathering at the Village Offices. Those wanting more can always adjourn to the brewery after that.