Local News

Chapel Hill hopes to curb attendance at annual Halloween bash

Posted October 31, 2012 7:03 a.m. EDT
Updated October 31, 2012 9:18 p.m. EDT

— Chapel Hill town leaders are hoping to curb attendance at its annual Halloween party on Franklin Street.

This year marks the fifth "Homegrown Halloween" celebration in Chapel Hill, which started in 2008 in an effort to keep crowd sizes down on Halloween.

In previous years, Halloween on Franklin Street attracted enormous 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 as part of the town's effort to cut down on the number of people celebrating and to cut down on how long the festivities last.

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. 

No special parking is available for the event, and shuttles were out of service. 

Downtown bars and restaurants will close at 1 a.m. to new customers and will also charge a minimum $5 cover charge for those not attending a private event. Stores that sell alcohol will also close or stop selling at 1 a.m.

Alcohol, weapons, paint, fireworks, animals and other items are prohibited.

More details and further information about the event is available on the town's website.

Police Chief Chris Blue said  last week that the strategy to reduce the number of people on Franklin Street is working. For example, three years ago, police arrested 20 people; last year, they only arrested three.

In a perfect world, Blue said, the event would go back to the way it was 25 years ago.

"People brought their children downtown, trick-or-treated in our local businesses and went home without us having to close our streets," he said. "I don't know if we'll ever get back to that goal, but it certainly seems like a worthwhile goal."