Local News

Changes In Store For Halloween Revelers In Chapel Hill

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CHAPEL HILL — Crowd control and safety concerns are

prompting changes

along Franklin Street in Chapel Hill this Halloween.

Last year, 50,000 people gathered for the annual celebration. While police will try to limit the number of people who gather on Franklin Street this year, officials still expect thousands of revelers on the streets.

Police roadblocks will be set up Wednesday evening on major roads into downtown and people who live or work in the area will have to get police permission to enter.

"Anyone who does not reside in the area or work in the area will not be allowed in. We won't be checking identification, but we will require that they provide a specific destination," says Chief Gregg Jarvies of the Chapel Hill Police Department.

For the first time, streets will be blocked off up to a mile and a half away. Public parking, including metered spaces, will be closed and regular town bus service will be suspended.

Town leaders say changes are necessary to try to scale back the annual party.

"Certainly some of the plans we are implementing now are due to the Sept. 11 events. But Halloween itself has gotten too big for Chapel Hill,and we need to take steps to minimize the impact on the town," says Jarvies.

Police are also asking revelers at the annual Halloween street festival to think about how their costumes and actions could affect people, given the terrorist attacks.

They say that there will be no tolerance for hoaxes involving chemical or biological hazards or look-alikes. Such actions will lead to arrests.

There is also a ban on dangerous items, even if they are part of a costume. That includes weapons and items that could be used as weapons.

Alcoholic beverages, glass bottles, fireworks and explosives are not allowed, nor are dogs or paint.

Some students say that the town is over-reacting, while others say that they appreciate the town's efforts.

Police will station 300 officers in the downtown area and officers may inspect backpacks, bags and other containers. The fire department will be on hand as well.

"We'll be providing some additional technical resources in the form of decontamination and so forth that we typically wouldn't use for Halloween," says Chief Daniel Jones of the Chapel Hill Fire Department.

The extra security will cost the town $100,000, up from $75,000 last year.

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