Local News

Changes coming to Chapel Hill's Halloween bash

Posted October 5, 2008
Updated October 6, 2008

— A campaign is being launched to scale back Chapel Hill's Halloween bash. Last year's event on Franklin Street attracted about 82,000 revelers. That is about 28,000 more than the town's population.

Town leaders say there is growing concern about binge drinking, crime and gang activity at the annual celebration. So a new "Homegrown Halloween" campaign aims to make the event safer and return it to its roots as a small-town community gathering.

"Halloween has grown to the point that it is now painting this town in a negative light,” business owner Jared Resnick said.

Town leaders hope two changes this year will scare some revelers away.

  • Chapel Hill Transit buses will no longer provide shuttle services to the downtown from area Park and Ride lots.
  • A traffic diversion plan will limit access to the downtown area by reducing lanes on Raleigh Road/N.C. Highway 54, Martin Luther King Drive and East Franklin Street.

“I think it's wise. I know it costs the town a lot of money to handle the event. Something smaller and lower key would make a lot of sense,” Chapel Hill resident Tom Davis said.

The celebration, which is not a town-sponsored event, cost taxpayers $221,000 last year. The money went toward employing 400 law enforcement officers, clean-up crews and emergency medical personnel. However, some people worry that scaling back the celebration will be bad for business.

"That just means that all those businesses are going to take a serious loss. Because not only is it one of their big events, but it's a Friday night and that's when they make most of their money,” Chapel Hill resident Caitlin Walsh said.

“It's very well-known. And I think that anything that can get your area and school known can be a good thing,” Chapel Hill resident Quintin Byrd said.

Police arrested 13 people at last year's celebration. Emergency Medical Services responded to 31 calls and took eight people to the hospital. Workers said 21 of the calls were related to intoxication.

Town leaders are expected to make a decision about alcohol sales at this year's event by Oct. 15.


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  • lorivalentine1 Oct 6, 2008

    Wah wah wah...
    If people were responsible then it would not be an issue.. There is no excuse for any one getting drunk and vandalizing the down town area.
    This is a case of a few (few being based on total population partying) ruining it for the many.
    Grow up people or this state will be a retirement community before long as businesses should not have to pay to fix selfish ignorant people's whims..and excuses to act immature and stupid.

  • Supie Oct 6, 2008

    it doesn't make sense that cutting the number of "revelers" from 80,000 to 50,000 will substantially cut one night's financial revenues for a downtown district as small as CH. They couldn't serve 80,000 in one night anyway. Maybe could serve 1/10 of 50,000 in one night.

  • madamwuf Oct 6, 2008

    Chapel Hill the drinking capital of NC? Hahahaha.


  • OALA Oct 6, 2008

    If the town doesn't pay for it, and it costs NC taxpayers that much, then it should be either open to all of NC or cancelled. If CH wants to have a halloween party, they should pay for it from the town budget, then they can close it off to residents only- otherwise, I don't see where they really don't see how they can enfore it.

  • seaturtlesrule Oct 6, 2008

    Head to Charleston and Savannah...they have Great Halloween parties!~~~

    NC is becoming more and more one big boring retirement village!!!

    God have mercy on us in Eastern NC...nothing BUT gangs and little blue-haired ladies with walkers...
    No jobs, no fun, no life, no way~~~

  • Dr. Dataclerk Oct 6, 2008

    The city of Chapel Hill should not allowed it. PERIOD!

  • seaturtlesrule Oct 6, 2008

    No more tolerance of gangs, period! They need to go to jail, and stay in jail away from civilized society. And our culture needs to change...no more violent rap music, no scumbags as "heroes" to our kids. Back to a safe and fun Halloween and put "Christ" back in Christmas (no religious nuts), and women should demand that it be safe for them to walk alone in their own neighborhoods for exercise! (Without mace, a .22, or a Rottweiler!).

    Peace & Love~~~ And Change!

  • pleaseexplainittome Oct 6, 2008

    Has anyone thought about possibly boycotting the stores that are spearheading this? The original story said that about 1/3 of the stores were against the celebration - how long would they stay in business if the students and other partygoers boycotted their business for a few months?

  • Garnerwolf1 Oct 6, 2008

    "Chapel Hill has always been known as the drinking captiol of North Carolina'

    Yes, if you're counting wine drinkers with their pinkies in the air.

  • TarheelTurtle Oct 6, 2008

    chatamite: Ditto!