Oxford Street retailers are hoping a three-day Halloween street festival later this month will shore up support for businesses which they say continue to suffer during the strip’s multimillion-dollar upgrade.

The Wicked Weekend event will run from 28 to 30 October, the three days preceding Halloween.

Local retailers’ group Darlinghurst Business Partnership, which is organising the inaugural street festival, said the event was an opportunity to promote the area and celebrate the community’s festive flair.

Shopkeepers, pubs and clubs on Oxford Street and in adjacent areas such as Crown Street will take up the Halloween theme, Darlinghurst Business Partnership member Robert Tait told Sydney Star Observer.

Retailers will decorate their shops for the occasion, trading later than usual on Saturday 29 October.

Tait, owner of Oxford Street’s The Pop Shop, encouraged shoppers to follow businesses’ lead.

We are hoping to get large numbers of people in fancy dress -“ scary costumes -“ coming to Oxford Street on the weekend immediately prior to Halloween, he said.

I think there’s a logic behind that too: we’re good at satire. It’s a chance for the community to stick a few pins and needles into public figures who need to have the piss taken out of them.

This is a chance to be a witch, a warlock, a drag queen or to be Janette Howard or some other really scary figure in our society.

Wicked Weekend has drawn support from the City of Sydney, which has donated $10,000 towards decorations and publicity and given $5,000 of in-kind assistance.

Also lending a hand is drag performer Claire de Lune, who has taken up poster girl duties for the festival. De Lune currently appears in Darlinghurst Business Partnership’s continuing Shop Oxford St Still Fabulous promotional campaign.

ACON will run a Wicked Weekend fundraising raffle, with prizes donated by Darlinghurst Business Partnership members.

Tait hoped the event would boost patronage for Oxford Street businesses.

We are under great stress. The upgrade is taking its toll, he said.

We are starting from humble origins. Hopefully in a couple of years this can be a really huge event.

Wicked Weekend is on the same weekend as the annual Sydney Food and Wine Fair, a fundraiser for the AIDS Trust of Australia in Hyde Park on 29 October.

All those people are revved up and ready for something else to do [after the Fair] and we would really love community members to come to Oxford Street, have a cocktail and just maybe hang around in Taylor Square, Tait said.

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