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Chapel Hill tries to spread word about smaller Halloween party

Posted October 29, 2008

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— Town officials are using the Internet and other means to get the word out that Friday night's Halloween celebration on Franklin Street won't be the same bash as in years past.

More than 80,000 people crammed Franklin Street last year, and the town spent about $221,000 for security, cleanup, crowd control, emergency medical care and other expenses.

Merchants in Chapel Hill said they aren't really fans of the Halloween event, with many noting in a recent survey that their businesses have been damaged by the crowds in years past. The feedback prompted town officials to try to scale back this year's event on public safety grounds.

Officials plan to restrict nearby parking, reroute traffic around downtown and eliminate shuttle buses from remote park-and-ride lots. Bars and convenience stores also have agreed to stop selling alcohol at 1 a.m., an hour earlier than normal.

"We've never taken out a single advertisement to promote this event," town spokeswoman Catherine Lazorko said.

The event grew by word of mouth, so officials are hoping to shrink it the same way. They are using a Facebook page and a YouTube.com video to communicate with college students and young adults who get their information from non-traditional sources.

"It's experimental, and we are kind of testing it to see how it goes," Lazorko said. "This is really an important week to get the word out."

Officials also have called charter bus services who traditionally drop people off at the event to suggest they stay away.

"There will be no place for these buses to park or to let out," Lazorko said.

The message has gotten through at Duke University, where student leaders stopped a shuttle service to Chapel Hill this Halloween.

Duke students said they hope to expand their own celebration, called Devil's Eve.

"They are kind of expanding what they usually do because it used to be kind of a pre-going-to-Chapel-Hill event, and now it is the main event itself," said Jordan Giordano, president of Duke Student Government.

Not everyone plans to play by Chapel Hill's new rules.

"I have some friends who go to school in Greensboro, and I think they are planning on coming anyway," said Kellen Carpenter, a University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill alumnus.

"Anytime an authority figure is, like, 'Hey, don't do that, bad college students or bad high school students,' that just makes people want to do it more," UNC student Chris Hartle said.

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  • Raleigh Oct 30, 2008

    stories like this one will attract more folks.....if you want the event to be smaller, dont tell anyone.

  • randywilloughby Oct 30, 2008

    If I was available to attend, I think I would get as many people together and attend just for the heck of hit.

    Wouldn't it be funny for them to have 80,000 plus this year just because they are trying to deter people from comming.

  • mpheels Oct 29, 2008

    "And on a side note, from what I've heard, if you know the town and Carrboro well enough, it won't be hard to find a way downtown."

    Yes and no. The quick route from Carrboro to Downtown CH will be closed as part of the standard Halloween closure. So you have to know Carrboro well, plus the standard street closures, how to finesse the people "guarding" intersections, and where to park on campus. I think the big deterrent will be $10/car parking on campus and no place for charter buses to unload/park. 8 years ago when I moved to CH, Halloween was a huge costume show, slightly intoxicated, but generally good natured and fun. Since then it has grown, fewer people dress up, and the tone of the event has changed. I agree that we can't blame it all on "outsiders" but since the people who live here are the ones paying for it, it's ok with me for TPTB to make it harder for people from out of town to attend.

  • VTHokie04 Oct 29, 2008

    "I don't think things will change as much as CH hopes they will."

    You might be right. Students cause destruction. Students get very intoxicated on this night. Students start fights. But, the students don't look like they are in gangs (which I want someone here to describe to me what a gang member looks like) and most of the students are not from Durham (and again, I want someone on here to tell me what a person from Durham looks like), so things may not be fine and dandy on Franklin St. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that UNC students are a bad bunch, nothing can be farther from the truth, but they are not the perfect angels that the town is trying to make them out to be. Chapel Hill puts too much blame on outsiders, and it is starting to get under my skin.

    And on a side note, from what I've heard, if you know the town and Carrboro well enough, it won't be hard to find a way downtown.

  • ECO Oct 29, 2008

    I don't think things will change as much as CH hopes they will.

  • pwilliamson53 Oct 29, 2008

    If all that attends events like this would have fun and not destroy property then none of this would have to happen. But those that let partying get out hand is the ones who caused this to be a mandatory action. Bad actions don't deserve to be rewarded each year. So those in the past are the ones who have ruined a good thing for everyone. It's not the council being the bad guys..it's the actions of those who can't control their partying and being distructive.
    A Shame it has come to this. But a few bad apples have ruined the biggest fun night for everyone.

  • Tax Man Oct 29, 2008

    Should be a good party even if there are fewer people. Hope it it safe and sane! My son and all his friends will be there in full costume, as always! They are staying with friends on campus so this will not affect them. It is their annual "get together" since they were all in High School together. Good bunch of kids - they won't cause the CHPD any trouble.