Chapel Hill asks visitors not to come on Halloween

October 25, 2010 10:43:30 AM PDT
The Chapel Hill police chief says he can't guarantee anyone's safety at this year's Franklin Street Halloween bash -- a party that has been known to attract up to 80,000 people.

Chief Brian Curran says Halloween is the one day of the year police ask people not to come to Chapel Hill. In 2007, the downtown party swelled to 80,000 -- that's 30,000 more than the population of the entire city, including the university.

Police hope to make this year's event more local, but the other issue is UNC's homecoming, which is Saturday.

Chief Curran says the department is working hard so people don't think of Chapel Hill when looking for a place to celebrate Halloween.

"If you are not a resident of [the] town, we are asking you stay in your own towns for that night," Curran told ABC11 Eyewitness News. "That's going to be extremely difficult for anyone to get into downtown Chapel Hill."

The Chief will have a traffic pattern in place on Sunday to try to discourage people from coming in from out of town.

Over the years, Chapel Hill's massive Halloween party on Franklin Street has shrunk on purpose since 2007.

"It had just gotten way out of proportion to what we can handle in our downtown area, so we made a strategic decision at that point to try to bring the crowd size down to a more manageable level," Curran explained. "We were able to get it down to about 35, so the next year went up to about 50,000. This year, Sunday night, we're hoping people have somewhere to be the next morning."

While the celebration may be a boost to the downtown bars, the bottom line is it's a loss for the town. Last year's celebration cost the city more than $197,000. Extra officers are brought in for crowd control, which will be more of a challenge this year due to homecoming.

"We'll have about 300 officers working," Curran said. "That includes 86 from Chapel Hill. I have to hire the others from surrounding agencies. We bring in gang specialists from different municipalities to help us in pointing out folks from their towns. We have officers from everywhere."

Along with the extra officers on hand, the bars have agreed to stop allowing people in at 1 a.m. If you're planning on going to Chapel Hill, make a note that officers will confiscate anything resembling a weapon -- even if it's part of a costume.

To learn more about Chapel Hill's Homegrown Halloween, click here.

And ABC11 wants to know what you think about some cities encouraging trick-or-treating on Saturday since Halloween is on Sunday, which is a school night.

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