Franklin Street crowd smaller than usual this Halloween
About 50,000 costumed revelers roamed Chapel Hill's Franklin Street Saturday, a lighter than usual crowd for the annual Halloween celebration.Posted — Updated
This year's crowd was larger than the 35,000 people who attended last year, but still short of the high of 80,000 revelers set in 2007.
In 2008, town leaders implemented the "Homegrown Halloween" policy to discourage out-of-towners from attending while welcoming residents and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students. They cited hundreds of thousands spent on clean-up, security and other costs as the reason for the change.
This year, police made one arrest for an assault in the area, said Chapel Hill police Lt. Kevin Gunter.
Orange County Emergency Medical Services responded to 22 calls, including 18 related to intoxication, Gunter said. Eight people were transported to UNC Hospitals.
To cut down on the crowds, police restricted vehicular access to downtown, limited downtown parking, blocked non-residents from adjoining neighborhoods, and required charter buses to drop off their passengers outside the town limits. Franklin Street bars and restaurants closed their doors to new patrons and stopped serving alcohol at 1 a.m.
Jim Bolbrook, who lives off Franklin Street, said the "homegrown" policy goes against the spirit of Halloween.
“Halloween is part of what makes Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill. It is one of our unique festivities,” he said.
Chapel Hill homeowner Glenn Withrow said the town needs to take whatever measures necessary to make sure the crowd is manageable and festive.
“If people come for the party, and they are dressed for the party, and they participate in the spirit of the Halloween party, then it is great,” he said. “(However), thousands of people from other towns came in their cars and motorcycles, and they weren't really part of the party, and they weren't in costume."
Plenty of people did dress up this year for the bash, including UNC student Sarah Toney.
“So we were like, why not be the swine flu? And we actually have stickers that say H1N1," Toney said. "We're going to stick people with them on Franklin Street. There are 17 of us that are dressed up like pigs."
Despite efforts to deter out-of-towners, some people just couldn't stay away.
“We just parked a couple miles down the road,” Phil Childs said.
Childs, of Durham, said he and his wife always celebrate Halloween on Franklin Street
"I like this town. I like coming on Halloween, just seeing the costumes. It has been safe the last couple years," he said.
Gunter said that Franklin Street was cleared by 12:20 a.m. and reopened shortly before 2 a.m. after cleaning.
With Franklin Street festivities for Chapel Hill residents only, some Halloween revelers partied along Hillsborough Street in Raleigh.
Last year’s Haunted Hike event attracted about 6,500 North Carolina State University students and Raleigh residents.
The Raleigh Police Department and the N.C. State campus police stepped up patrols to maintain order for the event. Officers also checked the identification of drivers going through the campus.
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