What appeared to be a troupe of traveling performers in shiny velvet and an assortment of other costumed families crossed Marsh Street and entered the immediate hubbub of Farmers’ Market. Trill children’s voices rose more frequently than usual among the normal static of the crowd.

There was a mirthful mix of young families like theirs and the regular black-clad, angst-filled youth.

“Lots of pirates this year,” a middle-aged woman noted from the storefront of Sanctuary Tobacco Shop on Chorro Street.

Indeed, one mother was headed for Higuera Street with a young pirate straggler in tow.

Farmers’ Market saw downtown trick-or-treating, Halloween Hoopla, which were the booths hosted by Cal Poly students, and a costume contest hosted by the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association and San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. Different businesses opened their doors and gave out candy to the trick-or-treaters while Cal Poly clubs ran games on Garden Street.

As far as San Luis Obispo Downtown Association promotions director Kristin Dennis knows, the Halloween themed Farmers’ Market tradition is more than 10 years old.

“The great thing about Farmers’ Market is it’s a closed street so people don’t have to worry about traffic. They can just let their kids dress up and not have to worry about that aspect of trick-or-treating,” Dennis said.

The Downtown Association has specialty events throughout the year.

“All of our Farmers’ Market events are geared towards kids,” Dennis said.

Older costumers were not excluded, however, from those strolling the streets Thursday. One Peter Pan dad carried a tiny Tinkerbell. Those older than 12 were only allowed to participate in the costume contest if they entered the pairs category with a child. A past winner in that slot consisted of a dad in a chef costume, who carried his baby lobster in a pot.

“They always look for homemade costumes, costumes that are original.They also try to listen to the crowd’s reaction,” Dennis said of the contest judges.

Cal Poly students working the Halloween Hoopla booths also dressed up. The Communication Studies Student Club had a fishing game, the American Marketing Association had a beanbag toss and The Wildlife Club had a pumpkin ring toss.

Christine Wallace of San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation said the clubs were asked to provide small interactive games for kids.

“I think it’s an easy way to bring people together but it’s also a controlled environment. Parents can keep an eye on their kids; it’s well lit,” Wallace said. “Some parents aren’t real pro trick-or-treaters so it gives the kids an opportunity to dress up and have a good time.”

Many kids were dressed up in the typical childhood aspirations such as superheros, mermaids, Ninja Turtles and fairy princesses.

One group of young girls headed for their next stop on the trick-or-treating map, each with a one-track mind: candy. In the midst of fruit stands and karaoke, they were relatively oblivious to all other surroundings, even each other. The entire night felt more like Halloween in a friendly but crowded suburban neighborhood rather than downtown on a Thursday night.

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