HARRISONBURG — Traverse through downtown Harrisonburg on April 5 in search of chocolate goods at the 21 stops featured in this year’s Chocolate Walk.
The eighth annual Chocolate Walk is organized by the Collins Center, a nonprofit that supports victims of sexual assault.
Participants visit each of the designated stops downtown to collect chocolate treats. A map of a suggested route is available, but participants can choose their own path to collect the 21 pieces of chocolate in a provided box.
Some of the local businesses giving out sweets this year include Shirley’s Popcorn, Bella Gelato, Food.Bar.Food, Black Sheep Coffee, Greenberry’s Coffee, Dunkin', Bittersweet Bakery and Mr. J’s Bagel & Deli.
“There will be fudge, cookies, chocolate scones and usually some kind of chocolate chip cookie,” said Rhoda Miller, co-organizer of the Chocolate Walk and crisis response coordinator at the Collins Center. “There will be gelato from Bella Gelato, different kinds of truffles, doughnuts, chocolate-covered pretzels, marshmallows, all kinds of stuff.”
The Chocolate Walk also includes stops at downtown shops, including Hugo Kohl, The Yellow Button and Cat’s Cradle, which will offer donated treats to hungry walkers.
Organizers have made some changes to this year’s event.
“What’s new this year is we have more stops than ever,” Miller said. “We have 21 different stops this year. I believe last year we had 18, which was our highest at that point.”
The new stops include Food.Bar.Food, Lola Mo’s Delicatessen and Broad Porch Coffee. Broad Porch will serve coffee and distribute chocolate out of its mobile truck, which will be parked at Turner Pavilion, the check-in location for the walk.
The Chocolate Walk is also starting an hour earlier, at 4 p.m., to give walkers more time to reach all of the stops and grab dinner downtown before the walk wraps up at 8 p.m.
The event coincides with the Arts Council of the Valley’s First Fridays. The Chocolate Walk was also moved up from May to April this year to coincide with National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Proceeds from the walk go toward the Collins Center’s general fund, to support its nationally accredited Child Advocacy Center, crisis services, therapy and counseling services, as well as education and prevention programming.
The Chocolate Walk is one of two main fundraisers the nonprofit holds each year. Miller said the group hopes to raise at least $10,000 from the Chocolate Walk this year.
“Last year, we had over 500 participants,” she said. “That’s what we’re shooting for again this year.”
The success of the event over the years is simple: “People love chocolate,” Miller said.
Tickets are $20 for adults and $8 for children 10 and younger. Registration can be completed online at www.thecollinscenter.org/chocolatewalk or the day of the event.