Changes to Franklin Street celebration under consideration

September 23, 2008 7:41:42 AM PDT
Monday Chapel Hill officials discussed changes to a Halloween tradition.

The tradition at the center of discussion Monday night was the Franklin Street Halloween block party.

Town leaders are worried the event will get out of hand next month. Last year, 400 police tried to control more than 80,000 party goers.

Thirteen people were arrested and eight were taken to the hospital.

The town council talked about ending Halloween festivities altogether, but they say that would take intense enforcement, likely resulting in injuries.

So the idea now is crowd control, by reducing the numbers who turn out and bus in for the party.

Halloween in Chapel Hill has transformed over the years from kids in costumes, to tens of thousands of people flooding Franklin Street.

Last year the Halloween event cost Chapel Hill more than $220,000.

"We're not trying to end Halloween, just trying to get it down to a size where we can get our arms back around it," Police Chief Brian Curran said.

He presented suggestions for the council to consider.

They include running an aggressive public information campaign on crowd control, limiting alcoholic beverage sales along Franklin Street and discontinuing the use of transit busses from the park in ride to downtown Franklin Street.

Other suggestions --placing parking monitors in surrounding residential neighborhoods to discourage illegal parking, also altering traffic patterns and using the UNC emergency contact system to direct crowds in case of an emergency.

The recommendations will now go to the town manager for review. There may be some minor bussing and parking changes this year, but it looks like any big changes will have to wait another Halloween.


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