NORTH EAST — With glitter and magic in the air, North East’s Main Street was transformed Saturday by the Main Street Unicorn Quest into a place where fantastic beasts roamed the world.
Ellie Mahan’s eyes grew wide and her mouth dropped open when her mom, Brittany Cichocki, told her there was a real unicorn in town. She was wearing a flower headdress with a pink horn on it.
“She just loves unicorns. This is going to make her day,” Cichocki said.
Main Street Unicorn Quest kicked off its third year in town, inviting hundreds of parents and children to enjoy a little magic in town. The idea started as a way to branch out from the merchant’s usual themed Second Saturday festivities.
“Unicorns are magical and in fairytales,” said Christie McDevitt, event co-organizer and owner of North East Chocolates. “They’re all around good, nothing polarizing about them. Who doesn’t like a good fairytale?”
Fellow event co-organizers Kathy Jamison and Angel Ball added that the event was a unique way to bring the community together and celebrating the quirky shops in North East.
“It’s just a great, free activity for the kids to get them out, and it brings a lot of promotion for the town,” Jamison said.
“These kids are our future leaders, so it’s important to show them why it’s important to shop local and spend time in their communities,” Ball said.
Fairwind Farms brought a unicorn — complete with a horn and silver hooves — for kids to pet next to North East Chocolates. Further down the street, Main Street businesses had their doors open and tables set out, offering magic wands, jewelry and fantasy-themed wares.
This year, a few pirates were also spotted around Main Street, since organizers were trying to branch out and welcome fantasy figures that young boys would be familiar with.
Each merchant offered special promotions, like free hair glitter at Impressions Salon and penny rings at the Sterling Station. The Unicorn Quest itself — where people earned one token for every $5 spent at a shop — helped boost business as well. With each token, participants could enter three raffle tickets for prizes.
Missy Renyolds, of Maryland Recycled Creations, said that people were arriving in time for the event one hour before it even started.
“It was a lot of people,” she said. “This is just fun for the kids and fun for the adults — I’m seeing more people dress up too.”
That included Doris Behnke, of Turkey Point Vineyard, who dressed up like a pirate complete with dreadlocks.
“This is really the first year we’re really involved with it,” she said. “Kids can’t sit up at the bar, but we do have a gift shop that can satisfy their interests. We put out a little more unicorn and mermaid-themed items.”
Between Wallace Avenue and West Street, kids played in the bounce house while others made “unicorn slime” out of beads and glitter. Face painting and sand bottle art were also popular, colorful additions.
Jennifer Basl, of Perryville, waited for her daughters to finish with their face painting so they could continue down the street.
“It’s a nice event, and they love the activities. Unicorns and mermaids are their thing, but it’s also great to see their school friends right before school is about to start,” Basl said.
North East Chamber of Commerce President Robb Carey said that since the Main Street Unicorn Quest’s inception, the event has grown bigger and better. Next year, he expects it to grow even stronger as the subcommittee looks to include more fantasy figures: medieval knights.
“This year, this is the most engaged, unique and fun Unicorn Quest we’ve had, and the most merchant interaction we’ve had,” Carey said. “I’m overwhelmed and thrilled with the turnout and all the credit for its success goes to the committee behind it all.”