By Emma Brodey and Vivian Scimone
Halloween on Franklin Street is a longstanding Chapel Hill tradition, and one that East students love to attend.
Every year on Halloween night, UNC students, surrounding residents, and even visitors from far away gather on Franklin Street tocelebrate the spooky holiday. In recent years this event has grown to huge numbers, with up to 80,000 people packing together on Franklin Street in one night. The late-night event was also known for its occasionally rowdy and not-so-family-friendly atmosphere. In response to the unmanageable size of the event, the Town of Chapel Hill has launched a new “Homegrown Halloween” effort.
Town Manager Roger L. Stancil initiated Homegrown Halloween in 2008. The shared effort among the Town, University, and Downtown aims to return Halloween on Franklin Street to its roots as a small town community gathering, and reduce crowd sizes that were becoming unruly. In accordance with these goals, the town is making several changes to the Franklin Street Halloween party this year.
This Halloween, to continue the effort to make this celebration as safe as possible, there will be over 300 police officers monitoring the event. Alcohol overconsumption has also been a major safety concern for this event, and as a result, alcohol checkpoints will be in place and DWI enforcement on the event perimeter will take place. The town will attempt to draw a smaller crowd by only closing down the streets from 8:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., a time slot earlier and a bit shorter than that of years past.
Many, like East seniors Jennifer Sessions and Jocelyn Reckford, are in support of these changes.
“I think it’s a good thing,” said Sessions. “If it’s earlier and there’s more regulation with police and control around that area, since it’s so popular, minors will have less of a chance of getting alcohol either purposefully or accidentally.”
“I think this will definitely make it more accessible to younger people,” agreed Reckford. “Less drugs and alcohol is definitely a good thing. My friends and I are planning on going to Franklin Street this year, and it will be my first time going, so I’m very excited. I’ve heard a lot about it. I don’t know what it was like before, but I don’t think the experience will be damaged by this. I think it will be a lot of fun.”
The town’s “Homegrown Halloween” effort aims to make Franklin Street a safer place to spend the spookiest night of the year, but this won’t change the spirit of the event. Franklin Street is likely to remain the destination of choice for college and East students alike this Halloween, and now they will be able to enjoy the festivities without any fear besides that which the holiday warrants.