NORTH CANTON  The North Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce held its second annual Chocolate Walk on Sept. 14. It was bigger than the first year with more than 250 people walking up and down Main Street to meet businesses and get some chocolate. 

Ticket holders had a beautiful sunny afternoon to walk the mile long stretch of Main Street stopping at different business along the way. Each participant had a Sweet Stop Passport that had a map and a list of the participating businesses along the chocolate route.

It was organized by Christina Weyrick and the North Canton Chamber of Commerce. Weyrick, who is the community relations director of the North Canton Public Library and chairperson of the chamber, came up with the idea.

“The event was open to member businesses and non-member businesses to handout chocolates, Christina is the main organizer and has  done a great job with it last year and again this year," said Chamber of Commerce President Doug Lane. “We also have tables setu p in parking lots and on the corners of the square this year for businesses that are located outside of the walk area but who still want to hand out chocolates. We want the event to be inclusive to all businesses in North Canton.”

There were 43 chocolate purveyors this year, which an increase from last year.

"The event is a way for people to see the businesses up and down Main Street and others in North Canton," Lane said. We’re hoping that the participants who are collecting the chocolates today will come back to the businesses to do more business with them.”

The walk route spanned Main Street with the northernmost point being the North Canton Fire Department and Waggoner Chocolates being the ending point on South Main Street. Along the way, ticket holders collected chocolate items such as candies, cupcakes, ice cream and some unique items.

M&H Beans offered small chocolate shot glasses that they filled with a cold coffee brew and topped it off with salty caramel whip cream. The North Canton Heritage Society offered a water bottle with an Anastasiades chocolate inside. 

The guidelines for the chocolate was that it had to be valued at a minimum of 50 cents but could be worth as much as the business wanted to offer. They were each required to provide at least 250 free pieces for the amount of tickets sold for the event.

Chocolate Walks have been popping up across the country and Weyrick has attended a handful in other cities. In addition, the Chamber offers the unique event because the 2012 North Canton Master Plan called North Canton a “backdoor community” and indicated this as an area for improvement. The city does not have on-street parking and this results in patrons entering businesses along Main Street through back doors. The problem with this is that those driving through the center of town do not get to see the vibrancy of the city.

The Chocolate Walk was meant to fill the downtown sidewalks with activity and make North Canton a front door community, even if just for one day. It has achieved that goal for the past two years with the Chocolate Walk event.

“The event is already in the planning stages for next year. We’ve been overwhelmed with the response and positive feedback both from the businesses and the participants. Plus, the great weather the good Lord has provided us both years has been a big help,” Lane said.