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Skeletons throughout Vermilion storefronts bring life, tourists to downtown business

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Posted at 10:40 PM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 23:58:51-04

VERMILION, Ohio — Vermilion is known for its lake views, character, and historic charm.

“We are a tourist, resort area and certainly during season we kind of explode,” said Lisa Kaplan.

Kaplan is the owner of Tails of Vermilion, an animal apparel and food store in the heart of downtown Vermilion.

She said she opened up shop this year because animals are her passion, and the location receives a lot of foot traffic.

Nikki Leva, the manager of Brummer’s Candy, echoed her sentiment.

“In the summer we have more traffic going in the door, just seven days a week, nonstop,” she said.

While most of the tourists retreat when summer is over, in October a new set of guests arrive: skeletons.

It’s the second-annual Shake, Rattle, and Stroll for the city of Vermilion. The nonprofit organization Main Street Vermilion organizes it.

Marilou Suszko is the executive director of Main Street Vermilion.

“We started Shake, Rattle, and Stroll and we encourage our local businesses all over town, not just downtown, to dress up and create fun scenarios with skeletons outside or inside their business. People get really creative. It just creates another reason for people to come downtown and enjoy Vermilion,” said Suszko.

Suszko said it began as a way to bring more people, safely, into the city and a way to increase revenue for the businesses in what’s, typically, a rather dead season.

This year, there are 47 skeleton displays throughout Vermilion that are unique to the business associated with it.

“Everyone goes big,” said Corah Swartz of Route 6 Pub. “Everyone gets excited about it and wants to do something different with the skeleton.”

Kaplan has a display with skeletal animals in Browns and Ohio State gear.

“I wanted to feature something with dogs and cats, even though it’s kind of creepy,” she said.

On the contrary, Brummer’s Candy display is rather sweet.

“We have ours with candy all over it,” said Leva.

While it’s all in good fun, the skeletons do have a bone to pick with one another. At the end of October, a panel of judges will vote on a winning display.

Main Street Vermilion gives out other prizes, too, like most social media interaction. Suszko encourages people to stop in Main Street’s lobby at 685 Main Street to pick up a map with directions to the 47 skeletons and post pictures on social media of their favorites with the #44089bones.

While it may be tricky to find all of the skeletons, it’s a treat for businesses.

“There’s a couple of places where you really have to look and some people have just gone to extremes,” said Kaplan.

“We have been crazy, crazy busy. People have been coming in non-stop and they’ll look around and look at the windows and skeletons,” said Leva.