22,000 pack Franklin Street for Chapel Hill's Halloween bash
Posted October 31, 2012
Updated November 1, 2012
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Approximately 22,000 people flocked to Chapel Hill's Franklin Street Wednesday night for the town's annual Halloween bash, despite cold temperatures and a forecast of frost overnight.
The fifth annual "Homegrown Halloween" celebration started in 2008 to keep crowd sizes manageable.
Streets were cleared by 11:45 p.m. and the two-block area of Franklin Street reopened to traffic around 12:45 a.m.
"As long as they don't close it a 9 o'clock, it is still Halloween," UNC freshman Brandon Boone said. "Everyone knows to go to Franklin and hang out."
One man was arrested around 10 p.m. for going through a checkpoint without stopping. Police didn't release his name, but he was charged with resist, obstruct and delay.
Orange County Emergency Medical Services responded to five calls – four of them related to alcohol and one having to do with a cut resulting from a fall, police said.
In previous years, the Halloween celebration attracted enormous – and sometimes unruly – crowds.
In 2007, there were approximately 82,000 people – more than the town's population of 54,000 – which caused public safety concerns downtown, on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus and in nearby neighborhoods.
An estimated 27,000 people attended last year's event.
"They realize it is for us, they are trying to keep it safe for all the students," freshman Patrick Mooney said of the more subdued celebration.
The town adjusted bus schedules for Wednesday, closed some streets leading to downtown and reduced lanes on others about 9 p.m., as crowds began to make their way onto the street.
Downtown bars and restaurants also closed at 1 a.m. to new customers and charged a $5 minimum cover charge for those not attending a private event. Stores that sell alcohol were also supposed to close or stop selling at 1 a.m.