Local News

Group wants Chapel Hill out of Halloween festival business

Posted November 3, 2011

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— A community group wants Chapel Hill to stop spending money on the annual Halloween festival on Franklin Street downtown.

The Coalition for Alcohol- and Drug-Free Teenagers says the Halloween bash started years ago as a town-sponsored event for local families but has, over time, become a raucous night for college students and outsiders.

"(It has) morphed into a costumed drunk-fest for many celebrants," Dale Pratt-Wilson, director of the coalition, said in a statement. "With alcohol-fueled misbehaviors, a significant component – families – were largely forced away, replaced mostly by a collegiate crowd from throughout the region. It's no longer a suitable place for young children or families."

Pat Burns, a retired Chapel Hill police officer and the law enforcement liaison for the group, said fights, indecent exposure, assaults on women, public urination and vomiting have become common at the Halloween festival.

"Arrests and emergency medical interventions always occur," Burns said in a statement.

Police charged a man with a history of peeping convictions with trying to videotape under women's costumes at Monday night's festival.

Chapel Hill spends about $200,000 for police, paramedics and street crews for the event.

"The Town Council should not be supporting any event that allows, condones or enables excessive drinking, particularly among so many underage participants," Pratt-Wilson said. "As a matter of public policy and responsible financial stewardship, (the) council can no longer rationally justify the expenditure of our reduced or limited revenues to support this brief, but costly annual event."

Chapel Hill has taken steps in recent years to cut back on the Halloween festivities by shutting down streets and closing off available parking near downtown, making it difficult for people outside the town to attend. About 35,000 people participated in Monday's event, down from about 80,000 four years ago.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said the town is trying to make the event both enjoyable and safe.

"What we're trying to do is actually return it back to that safe and wonderful event that it was," Kleinschmidt said. "When there was 80,000 people crammed into a two-block area on Franklin Street, I questioned whether or not it was truly a fun and safe event."

Pratt-Wilson said the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill should consider moving the festival onto campus and picking up the tab.

76 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Here2tellya Nov 4, 2011

    it's a college town, with college kids doing what they do best. If you want a family event have it somewhere else. Franklin St. is right in the middle of campus after all.

  • davlee Nov 3, 2011

    Seems no one is complaining about law enforcement working, and I find no mention of firefighters, only Orange County EMS. Underage drinking and misconduct issues aside, the complaint seems to be that local taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for whomever is working just to control drinking collegians. Who can disagree with that.

  • Coretta Scott Thing Nov 3, 2011

    Waaaaaaaa!!!!! So sad to hear that law enforcement and firemen actually have to WORK for one night in Chapel Hill. There is a fire station just around the corner from my home, from what I can tell what they do every day is cook wieners on the grill and play basketball. As far as the police, they seem to stay parked on the sides of the road in tandem one car one way one car the other so they can gossip through the windows at each other and "monitor traffic". It's not like they are working in a dangerous environment.

  • itsnews2me Nov 3, 2011

    re: "fights, indecent exposure, assaults on women, public urination and vomiting have become common at the Halloween festival"

    Um, that happens most any Thurs - Sat nites in most any college town - costume not necessary.

  • Relic Nov 3, 2011

    Nice to see Chapel Hill's mayor is about as observant as Mayor Meeker in Raleigh. There is no way to make an event of 30,000 plus people who are rowdy and drunk at night in a town the size of Chapel Hill "safe". Others compare it to the NCAA celebrations. Folks, if UNC wins the NCAA's EVERY YEAR ON THE SAME DAY then I'd expect the folks in Chapel Hill would have a problem with those parties, too. This is over $200,000 that taxpayers should not have to spend for a return of income and taxes that will be nowhere near that. No city or town needs to fund or endorse a drunk fest annually.

  • Shadow213 Nov 3, 2011

    oh good grief. wouldn't it still cost the city money to patrol the streets to make sure no party takes place? and of course, the city would be losing money by the loss in business.

  • fayncmike Nov 3, 2011

    "And how much did the local business lose because of the party. Let see there were costumes sold probably lots of cokes and pepsi colas food etc i know lets just roll up the sidewalk at 5:oo everybody go home and watch wral tv. Then there will be less taxes collected and poor Bev will have to stay home and actually talk to the reporters at WRAL
    sunshine1040"

    Actually I think they mostly watch The Lawrence Welk Show. A-one and a-two, and a:)

  • sunshine1040 Nov 3, 2011

    And how much did the local business lose because of the party. Let see there were costumes sold probably lots of cokes and pepsi colas food etc i know lets just roll up the sidewalk at 5:oo everybody go home and watch wral tv. Then there will be less taxes collected and poor Bev will have to stay home and actually talk to the reporters at WRAL

  • soyousay Nov 3, 2011

    regardless..its a college town and that bastion of festive children running around making their mothers weep on halloween make CH possible...and if CH actually wins something this year...it will be even more festive, so to speak

  • kikinc Nov 3, 2011

    "What happens at NC State on Halloween...."

    We all went to Chapel Hill to party on Halloween! I'll admit it. Chapel Hill was where the party was at....unless of course, it was a weekend. Then we could justify the trip to Greenville.

More...