Chapel Hill, N.C. — If you don't live in town and can't walk there, Chapel Hill town leaders want you to stay away from Franklin Street on Halloween.
In past years, large crowds of Halloween revelers have required hundreds of officers to be on patrol and hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for clean-up, security and other costs.
In 2007, more than 80,000 people showed up – more than he population of the entire town.
Town leaders have developed a strategy to reduce the size of the crowd.
"If you can walk to Halloween, then you are invited. If you have to drive, don't come," Mayor Kevin Foy has said. "There's nowhere to park. There's no buses. There's no way to get around, and you won't have a good time."
When the policy was first implemented in 2008, attendance dropped by more than half to 35,000. Cleanup and extra security cost the town about $200,000.
From 7 p.m. this Saturday, vehicular access to downtown will be restricted. Downtown parking will also be almost non-existent, and barricades will block non-residents from adjoining neighborhoods.
No shuttle buses will run downtown, and charter buses will be allowed to drop off passengers only on the outskirts of the town.
Chapel Hill also won't recognize the time change that weekend – which means that 1 a.m. will not be considered midnight. That extra hour of partying won't be allowed.
Starting at midnight, police will reopen Franklin Street to regular car traffic in an effort to clear the streets.
Bars and restaurants on the street will close their doors to new patrons and stop serving alcohol at 1 a.m. The venues will charge a $5 cover fee.
Scott Cox, owner of the Carolina Coffee Shop on Franklin Street, said he rented out his bar and restaurant for a private party during the festivities. The 1 a.m. cutoff won't impact his bar, he said.
“As a business owner, if I didn’t have a party booked, you know, I think it’s probably hurting businesses,” Cox said.
However, Cox said, safety comes first, and the town needs to take whatever measures are necessary to make sure downtown is safe.