How the Town of Chapel Hill stole Halloween

"This is a local event,” Mayor Kevin Foy said in an official Town video. “If you can walk to Halloween, you’re invited. If you can’t, don’t come.”

Wow. Watch the Youtube clip. Lame.

(3 min 15 sec) CUE CREEPY MUSIC and Watch Mayor KEVIN FOY DISAPPEAR INTO A MISTY FOG CLOUD. REALLY? Really Chapel Hill? You can't make this Homegrown Halloween initiative "cool" with special effects or rationalization. Limiting the growth of events like Halloween hurts the "Brand" of our Town and ultimately has a negative effect on our Local Economy.

The Town of Chapel Hill wants to keep Halloween under control, calling to limit Franklin Street party-goers to 15,000 (A LOWER NUMBER than the Ungraduate Population at Carolina, reports the The Daily Tar Heel). ABSURD, I know. AND it hurts the REGIONAL reputation of FADING DOWNTOWN that used to be a must-see destination for ALL Triangle Residents.

Now they can stay in Wake County for food and entertainment, rather than window-shop the spaces FOR LEASE on Franklin Street. Oh, and the unnecessary traffic stops and crowd control on Halloween in 2008 certainly hurt spillover spending for DSI COMEDY ( and other Carrboro businesses. New Halloween policy falls in line with our Local government MISSION to limit growth, but we need to WELCOME people from outside our small towns for regular spending and we should consider an event like Halloween a Tax-payer funded ADVERTISING EXPENSE. If we continue to limit growth soon there will be NO growth and you will see MORE small business owners decide to close up shop here in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

Do we want a town full of empty storefronts?




This, like the Homestead Park Homeless Shelter Relocation Plan, is part of the whole concept of making Chapel Hill "safe" for those new, expensive condos. Although, I still seriously don't understand why anyone would want $500,000 condo in Chapel Hill, since they can't sell them in Miami (they have a beach, you know).Pretty soon they can run out those pesky clubs that aren't wholesome enough or the stores with comic books and interesting stuff. We want to be a retirement destination, so let's replace them all with antique stores and replace the local artists with those "Sofa-Sized Oils" I see on late night tv since we ran out the local Art Gallery at Eastgate. Perhaps, a National Hearing Aid franchise would add more to downtown. It can be located next to the Snuggie Emporium.When UNC wins a title, celebrations will be limited to the hours of 7-9 PM so as not to interfere with the early bird diners or the reruns of Dancing with the Stars. It's confusing when the noise comes from the outside - at a certain age that is disorienting... As for limiting to less than the number of students, I thought the plan was to build a large wall around campus, so those young people are well-contained. Wouldn't want College Students ruining a "College Town Feel," Would we?

NCSU has taken a page from UNC in starting up a street party over the past couple of years that went from a few hundred people, to a few thousand people once Franklin Street was downsized.  Next year is when it is really expected to take off after the Hillsborough St revitalization is complete.  Right now there is a bit of construction, but with increased parking, round abouts, and maybe easier street crossing it should be a pretty sizable event especially as Franklin St gets smaller and smaller.Here are a few pics from Haunted Hillsborough last year: This link has a slide show with more pics from last year & some news coverage of the event: I still did Franklin St last year, & I plan to go again this year, but next year I'm thinking (haven't decided for sure) I'll give Hillsborough St a try.  According to google maps it's a 9 minute drive from here to the center of downtown of Chapel Hill, or a 1 hour walk.  At that rate it's quicker for me to drive to Raleigh for Halloween, but I'm going to wait until their street revitalization is done before giving it a try.  If the trends continue, Franklin Street wont be the biggest halloween college street party in the triangle for too many more years.And adding to the mood of Haunted Hillsborough will be the Barrel Monsters that sit atop a build over looking the street.

Since it's a Saturday Night, I am curious if we will have some problems with party crashers.

Funny... I seem to recall from years back that the call to limit the size of Halloween came from business owners. And I seem to recall that the people far and wide (and near and dear) who used to come to CH for Halloween shopping and touring stopped because it was too large and too scary; the only people attending anymore are/were drunken idiots.I'm going to venture a guess that the marginal increase in revenue for the few businesses that remain open does not come close to the cost for the town to oversee and clean up this mess.People don't visit CH throughout the year because it has a bitchin' Halloween drunkfest. If you're basing CH's future on Halloween, ...well, that's sad.I, for one (I've lived here 13 years), will be glad to see the Halloween drunkfest come to an end, or at least be morphed into something else.

Respectfully, I disagree. You see destructive force. I see opportunity.You also might be confusing Brand Development with Marketing for an immediate purchasing decision. Halloween isn't just about increasing retail THAT DAY. It is about the development of the unique brand of a liberal college town as a DESTINATION, but not a destination just for the Football or Basketball crowd. I've lived here for 20 years. I've owned my business in Carrboro for 5 years. I know the restrictions on "Franklin Street" Halloween affects our customer traffic on Main Street the entire weekend. I also feel very strongly that a Town like Chapel Hill needs to capitalize on its unique position, brainstorming growth instead of contraction, rather than freely give up that bitchin' position of Economic prosperity (under the guise of "controlled growth") like it has to Wake County in entertainment and dining Revenue over the past 10 years. #ZW,

I agree with where you are going with that point in that while it touches on shopping, it goes beyond that in that it touches on the kind of unique culture we have here.  Here is the text of a commentary I recorded for WCHL that was played around early October of last year.  Since then I've shifted a little more towards understanding safety and cost conerns, but it all depends on how you go about it.  There is a difference between being outright hostile & unwelcoming, vs just not spending extra money to facilitate the event.  Perhaps a more proactive approach for dealing with Halloween, syphoning off some of the street party goers to other town sponsored or just community organized safe events, or something might be a way to think about things.But this is what I thought last year: 

This is Jake Goad.

As a graduate of NC State (with a B. A. in philosophy) who's taken a
number of classes at UNC and who's spent a couple of years living and
working here in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area, I wanted to address our
community's current discussion about how to handle our famous Franklin
Street Halloween Festival.

At NC State, no matter how much of a rivalry we had, no matter how
die-hard of a Wolfpack fan you were, you always respected UNC's
Halloween event, because you know that they know how to throw a party!
And when it comes to street parties, size matters.

Mayor Foy recently addressed outsiders saying, "I think the first thing
is to make it clear to people that they're not invited." I believe this
goes against several values held by our community.

We are an inclusive community.

We are a community that welcomes creativity.

And we recognize our part in the larger community of the Triangle area and the Tarheel State.

I'm all for making things safer. And I'm all for trying to put a
positive spin on things… perhaps by tying it to raising awareness for a
cause, a charity, or even just having food bank bins set up on Franklin
St. for the night.

I respect what Mayor Foy is trying to do, but we can't retreat from
this event into ourselves. We could diminish and give up all of our
town's festivals until we feel secure at the cost of our culture, but
that isn't what we are about. I can only hope my contribution to this
public debate will help sway things to the side of personal
responsibility in individuals choosing whether or not to take part in
this event, and in helping us remember that in this college town- a
town that brings in talent from all over the state and all over the
world, we are either a community of inclusion, or we are all outsiders.

 According to google maps downtown is a 9 minute drive or a 1 hour walk from where I live in Chapel Hill.  Google maps says its a 29 minute drive from my place to Hillsborough St in Raleigh.  I've already made plans to do Franklin St this year, but I've heard talk of a goal of getting Franklin St. down to 15,000 or less, whereas Hillsborough St has jumped up to a few thousand attendees & growing from a few hundred as a result of Franklin St getting smaller.  Next year once Hillsborough St is done being revitalized, I think I might go there instead since it'll much quicker to go 2 cities down the road rather than stay in my own town. there facebook group they already about 2,500 attending or maybe attending people.  And they expressly mention the goal of supporting local businesses:  "DESPITE CONSTRUCTION--let's keep the Haunted Hike alive in 2009! In fact, BECAUSE of construction Hillsborough Street bars and businesses need this more than ever."If my options next year are spend more time getting to a street party that I'm not welcome at, or spend less time getting to a street party where I am welcomed to that has an explicit goal of supporting local businesses, then it wont be a hard decision, especially if Hillsborough St becomes the bigger street party.

 This looked kind of neat:Tune
in for a localized version of War of the Worlds at 7pm on Halloween at
88.1 FM, the NCSU college station, or listen to their online stream:

Since I don't think we need more than one Halloween thread going, especially since this one is already front paged, even if this isn't exactly about Halloween being stolen...Where are you going for Halloween?  Franklin St?  Trick or Treating?  Community Event?  Halloween/Costume Party?And what will you be wearing, what is your costume this year?  What costumes have you worn in years past?  Do you have pictures? My plans are to find my way to Chapel Hill Comics at some point because they always have some interesting costumes there (& of course there are free comics involved if they can take a pic of you for their website), then over to campus to watch a scary movie with friends, then franklin street until it shuts down, and then to an after party. Look out for Captain America patrolling the streets this year... well only 1 street, Franklin Street, this Halloween.  

My friends from Dubai/South Africa  are excited about Halloween in Chapel Hill.     They don't "do"  Halloween over there.

So, we've proven that we cannot limit Halloween by making it hard for people to get here. Like no one has crashed a party before. I recommend plan B - Let's setup checkpoints (like they used to do in Communist countries and still do in Iraq and at New York clubs). Seriously, what about charging people admission that gets them into certain activities - $50 gets you 10 free drinks and the opportunity to go up to the roof of Top of the Hill and Bungee jump down to the street below.At this point, it's pretty clear that a Youtube video, no transport (which I agree with - why should the town pay for out of towners) and a concerted effort to say "keep out" only brought us more publicity. As the for the Hillsborough Hike - it kind of looked like the Battan Death March from the TV shots.So, we're stuck with this thing. We need to figure out how to make it work for us. Seriously, the only way to break up a crowd is water cannons and tear gas and with so few incidents from 50,000 people that would have hardly been justified.

I still think we should sell wristbands for admittance like they do for First Night in Raleigh. It would keep some of the worst elements out, while raising money for the management and clean up of the event. Liability might be an issue for the Town, but this could also help local businesses by making wristbands ONLY  available for advance purchase at locally-owned businesses.Maybe the bands would also be good for a shuttle ride, or we could even charge extra for that!

This almost reminds me of the debate over legalizing marijauna. We might as well make money off of it.Just say no, resulted in a 15,000 person increase in the problem we were trying to solve.

In thinking about how to deal with future Halloweens, we should be careful to properly identify the problems and concerns.  Crime, Disease (N1H1), Costs.  But people aren't the problem, even if they are instrumental to it.Likewise the benefits of fun, creativity, community gathering, inclusiveness, and the like also require people, even if people are instrumental to them.I think that is one of the problems I had with Mayor Foy's approach.  He treated people as the problem and told them they weren't welcome.  But people are instrumental to the goal of the festivities, to the problem itself, and to the solution of the problems.  If we can find ways for 50,000 people can participate in the festivities that don't cause more damages than 35,000 people particpating in the festivities, then by all means lets be inclusive.I was told that 2007 halloween cost about 220k with 80k people, and 2008 cost about 200k with 35k people which certainly seems like diminishing returns that would never pass a cost effectiveness analysis.I don't know what the solutions are, I think the solutions deserve considerable thought & perhaps pro-active action, but I know people aren't the problem.

at the New Kenan Stadium and around it. So maybe we should look at Halloween with the same approach to crowd management as a football game. And with the same respect. Believe me, tailgaters drink a lot more than many of the folks on Franklin Street on Halloween.We aren't outraged over a revived football program. 

I used to be on the board for First Night (before I had kids and my wife insisted we not miss her family's tradition of New Years at Myrtle Beach).    I just might have to consider whether this is an idea worth pursuing.


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