PROVIDENCE — Crowded behind yellow caution tape nearly, shoulder-to-shoulder in front of Italian eateries on Atwells Avenue — a street that’s seen some things in the city’s Little Italy neighborhood — people from all over New England saw witches over Providence, perhaps for the first time.
Over the last few days, filmmakers have transformed the street into a set for the sequel to the 1993 Halloween cult classic “Hocus Pocus,” which has been filmed around Rhode Island since July.
Filming has taken place on Benefit Street in Providence, Washington Square in Newport, and Chase Farm in Lincoln, R.I., where a Colonial-era town was built for the set.
A gaggle of fans of the Disney comedy horror movie began gathering at 4 p.m. Friday after the Globe reported Monday that the Sanderson sisters — played by actors Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy — were coming to Federal Hill to film. Cranes hung over Walgreens at 333 Atwells Ave. with a cable apparatus for aerial stunts, much like a circus sans the big top.
Eagled-eyed fans immediately noticed cast members dressed as Winifred, Mary and Sarah Sanderson, who politely waved to kids trying to get their attention. However, they appeared to be stunt doubles outfitted with harnesses.
We caught the adorable moment on video:
Prior to filming, Atwells Avenue was closed from Vinton Street to America Street, where a crane was set up, and later Providence Police and set security moved extras dressed in Halloween costumes down to De Pasquale Avenue, wearing some very familiar outfits from the party scene in the first movie.
The mob of actors swayed back and forth down the street to an enchanted song. In an effort to stay warm, the dancers shuffled at least two sets of extras in and out — with the departing actors grabbing coats and running down an alleyway.
Visitors to the set were allowed to be in restaurants along the Atwells Avenue, which was decorated with signs for the fictitious holiday fair fans saw weeks earlier at Washington Park in Newport, R.I. The signs were hanging from street lamps and posted in store windows.
The dancers were on opposites sides of Atwells Avenue, while stunt doubles for the Sanderson sisters used brooms, vacuums, and a strange set of glowing red shoes for a scene that showed them flying out of Walgreens.
The real witches may have been concealed behind a giant white curtain and lighting equipment, but our non-magical eyes could not confirm that.
But there were definitely two sets of Sandersons on the set.
The crowd made an effort to allow kids to stand in front of the adults to see the witches zipping through the air.
The movie, which was largely filmed in Los Angeles in 1993 with small parts in Salem, Massachusetts, appears to be a New England product the second time around. Filmmakers will be on Federal Hill through early Sunday morning. They are working from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday, according to a city spokesman.