by Fiona Morgan
How do you keep a street party of 80,000 people from getting out of hand?
That's the question the Chapel Hill Town Council will discuss tonight. The police chief and parks and recreation director will present a report on ways to make the state's most famous annual Halloween party safer and less draining on the town's resources. That report will not be made available until the meeting, so no word yet on how they plan to reduce the number of drunken idiots driving to Franklin Street to pick a fight. Comments to The Chapel Hill Herald (reg. required) suggest the focus will be on catering to UNC students -- who don't need all those shuttle buses. Update: The report is now available here.
Last year, 13 people were arrested and eight were taken to the hospital even as 400 law officers were on hand keep the peace. Cost to the town: more than $220,000. Keep in mind, Chapel Hill's population is just over 51,000. Franklin Street's business owners are none too happy with the "sinister" turn the party has taken, either. In a chamber of commerce survey, 64 percent of downtown businesses reported property damage.
So if Chapel Hill regards non-residents as party-crashers, where will costumed revelers go?
I hear Sir Walter likes a good street party.
Update 9/23: See Lisa Sorg's coverage of the council discussion.