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Shop, Dine, Stroll and Care in West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square

Business Association's first annual Spring Stroll will be held on Saturday, May 14.

"Shop – Dine – Stroll” proclaim the signs that sprouted from street lamps once spring finally arrived in West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square. Now, businesses in the Center and Blue Back Square have added another critical component, and used it as the slogan for their first annual Spring Stroll.

“” will be held on Saturday, May 14, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. “We’ve always done a stroll just at holiday time, but we hope to make this an annual event,” said Barbara Karsky of .

“When we were planning the event, we wanted a different twist. So many businesses in town already showcase fair trade products, or products made in America,” Karsky said. The “Care” was added to the West Hartford Center Business Association’s new slogan, to represent an important focus of the stroll: giving back to the community.

“Statistics show that locally-owned independent merchants return about 68 percent of their income back to the local economy,” according to Rosie DeRobertis of . “We already have a lot of locally-owned businesses, and combining with charities is just another way to give back to the community.”

DeRobertis worked closely with Karsky and Karen Herbert, co-owner of BK & Co., as well as several others to develop preliminary plans for the event. “Everyone was ‘in’ in an instant,” DeRobertis said.

Many businesses already support selected charities, and each participant in the stroll committed to a charitable component, with most donating a portion of their sales to their chosen cause. The merchants will be helping build awareness for the organizations, and some local non-profits will also be actively participating in the stroll.

Charities include Sunrise Sudan, Not For Sale Campaign, Veteran’s Memorial, , Fair Trade Coffee, Foodshare, House of Bread, West Hartford Junior Woman’s Club, House of Bread, MS Society, Gengras Center School, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Channel 3 Kids Camp, Ivan Lendl Adaptive Sports Camp, Artisan’s Special Needs Fund, Team Towanda, Jewelers for Children, and Easter Seals.

Family entertainment and special shopping and dining discounts will also be available as part of the stroll. Planned kids’ activities include face painting, balloon making, street performers, and and the opportunity to add to Not For Sale’s “Chain of Change.”

A special butterfly logo will be displayed at all participating locations. “Strollers” can pick up free paper butterflies at the Patch booth at the intersection of LaSalle Ave. and Farmington Ave., and present it to receive special discounts, tastings, or gift with purchase wherever a butterfly is displayed.

The following businesses plan to participate in the stroll: Armeny Custom Jewelry Design, Artichoke, BK & Co., Blue Acorn, Bumblebug Art, Center Framing, Clay Pen, Comina, DeRobertis Jewelers, Farmington Bank, Fleet Feet, Frame Dimensions, Green Teahouse, Kellie Burke Interiors, Kimberly Boutique, Kuboos, KUR Fitness, Labrazel Home, LCR, Lucy Activewear, Lux Bond & Green, Lyn Evans, Matthew Phillips, Munson’s Chocolate, New York Sports Club, Penzey’s Spices, Philip David Jewelers, Plimptons, Reuben’s Delicatessen, Silkworm, Ten Thousand Villages, The Greeting Shoppe, Toy Chest, and Via Del Gusto.

“We want people to not only shop, dine, and stroll, but also to care,” said Karsky. “As local merchants, we have the ability to have a direct impact.”

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