Homegrown Halloween


Friday, October 31, 2008 - 6:00pm


Franklin Street, Chapel Hill

Announcement from the Downtown Partnership:

Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership                  October 31, 2008
Homegrown Halloween in Chapel Hill is an effort to return Halloween on Franklin Street to its roots as a small town community gathering and reduce crowd sizes that have become unmanageable. The Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership and the Town of Chapel Hill are committed to focusing on the safety of the downtown community. Below are details on town operations for Halloween.  For complete details please click here.
Thank you to the Chapel Hill Police Department and the many other town staff and departments who make extraordinary efforts to maintain a safe environment in Chapel Hill for Halloween visitors and everyone in our community!
If you have any questions please contact:
--Officer Phil Smith, Chapel Hill Police Department at (919) 968-2760 ext.134 or psmith@townofchapelhill.org
--Catherine Lazorko, Chapel Hill Public Information Officer  at (919) 968-2743 or publicaffairs@townofchapelhill.org
--Meg McGurk, Assistant Director at the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership at (919) 967-9440 or meg@downtownchapelhill.com  
General Information about Halloween:
 Street Closures in the Town of Chapel Hill:
 -Southbound traffic on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd will be merged into one lane prior to the intersection of Estes Drive. VIEW MAP

-Westbound traffic on E. Franklin Street will be merged into one lane prior to the intersection of Estes Drive. VIEW MAP
-Westbound lanes on South Road will be detoured onto Ridge Road to Manning Drive. VIEW MAP
- Westbound traffic on Manning Drive will be detoured south onto S. Columbia Street. Northbound traffic on S. Columbia Street will be detoured east onto Manning Drive. S. Columbia Street will be closed to northbound traffic at Manning Drive.
Street Closures in Downtown Chapel Hill:
The closed area of Downtown Chapel Hill will be larger in order to accommodate the size of the crowd. No vehicular traffic will be allowed in the closed area once the streets are closed.  There will also be limited access to the residential areas immediately around the Central Business District.    
Closed Area:
· Franklin Street - from Raleigh Street to Roberson Street
· Columbia Street from Cameron Avenue to Rosemary Street
· Raleigh Street From Cameron Avenue to East Franklin Street
Parking Downtown on Halloween:
-As always, there will be little to NO PARKING available close to downtown, and there will be no place for charter buses to drop off or pick up passengers.
- Parking meters on the 100 block of East Franklin Street, all of West Franklin, Henderson and North Columbia Streets will be bagged for No Parking starting at 3:30 P.M.
-Vehicles parked on streets to be closed will be towed beginning at 6 p.m.
-Vehicles that are illegally parked will be ticketed and towed, with a minimum recovery cost of $103.
Prohibited Items in the Closed Areas:
Items, even as part of a costume, which can be used as weapons or could reasonably be mistaken as weapons will be confiscated. This includes items made of wood, metal, cardboard or hard plastic.
Town ordinances and State statutes prohibit the following items in the closed area:
·Alcoholic Beverages
·Glass Bottles
·Fireworks and Explosives
·Flammable Substances
· Coolers

Downtown Merchant Restrictions:
-Downtown restaurants and bars will close their doors at 1 a.m. to new patrons.
-Patrons will be charged a minimum $5 cover charge not attending a private event.
-Downtown convenience stores that sell alcohol will either close their doors or stop selling alcohol at 1 a.m.
Public Transit Options on Halloween:
-There will be NO BUS SHUTTLES operating from park and ride lots.
- Safe Ride buses will operate from 11 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Safe Ride is a service funded by the University for the safety of students. Safe Ride buses will attempt to operate the normal printed schedule along the detoured routes. Safe Rides will not serve Downtown/Franklin Street area. For Safe Ride map and schedule details click here.
-Chapel Hill Transit riders should be aware that some regular bus routes will be changed on Halloween. For details on changed routes please click here.

Information for Downtown Residents:
The Town of Chapel Hill will make every effort to keep people who are attending the event from parking in downtown neighborhoods.
- Access to  neighborhoods will be limited by barricades and police personnel at the roads leading into neighborhoods. This will begin early in the evening.
-Residents of the neighborhood will be able to drive in and out of the enclosed area. Residents should tell the officer at the barricade their address.
-Residents guests will also be able to enter and leave. They will need to tell the officer at the barricade exactly where they are going.
- Illegally parked vehicles (even of residents, guests) will be ticketed and towed.
-Traffic will be congested and getting past the barricades may be a slow process. We recommend that you plan accordingly.
Contact Information:
--Officer Phil Smith, Chapel Hill Police Department at (919) 968-2760 ext.134 or
--Catherine Lazorko, Chapel Hill Public Information Officer  at (919) 968-2743 or publicaffairs@townofchapelhill.org
--Meg McGurk, Assistant Director at the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership at (919) 967-9440 or meg@downtownchapelhill.com  


According to The Carrboro Citizen:


"Carrboro Police will also monitor the municipal lots in Carrboro to try to prevent visitors from parking to walk to Franklin Street."


Does anybody know how to interpret this?  Are the Carrboro public parking lots going to be closed to Carrboro residents?

I really can't risk a $103 towing fee.

That would be useful to know. We were also thinking about parking in downtown Carrboro, so that a number of people going to a show could walk  from Franklin to Carrboro, but then drive the rest of the way as some streets  can be poorly lit and a little intimidating after midnight.

From Police Chief Brian Curran (in the N&O)

"Not coming is going to be the smart thing to do this year," said Curran.

"I would like to apologize in advance to all the people that are going to be inconvenienced that live here. ... Our advice to people is, plan to stay in that night."


so much for "homegrown." 

I guess the way I read those two statements is this: You are welcome to walk/bike downtown.

walking two miles alone after midnight on Halloween night.


probably not gonna do that.


if I only had a bike. 

Mark C.- do you know what "monitor" means in the Carrboro Citizen quote about Carrboro parking?  Do you know if that means closed to everyone-- or just closed to out of town visitors?  Clearly some decisions have been made about the public lots- but it's not clear what the rules are for locals.

According to the Chapel Hill's special Halloween webpage, getting to Downtown prior to 9pm should not be hard for those living within the CH Transit system.  The bus system seems to be running normal operations with these few exceptions:

Changes to Bus Routes: Chapel Hill Transit riders should be aware that some regular bus routes will be changed, including the following:

·      D Route will end at 9:10 p.m. at the Mary Ellen Jones Building

·      J Route will end at 8:56 p.m. at the Rock Creek Apartments

·      NS Route will end at 8:37 p.m. at Eubanks Park and Ride

·      NU Route will end at 8:56 p.m. at Carolina Coffee Shop

"walking two miles alone after midnight on Halloween night.

probably not gonna do that."

You should take the Safe ride bus...

Safe Ride Buses: Safe Ride buses will operate from 11 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Safe Ride is a service funded by the University for the safety of students. Safe Ride buses will attempt to operate the normal printed schedule along the detoured routes. Safe Rides will not serve Downtown/Franklin Street area. Please be advised that due to road closures and traffic pattern changes, Chapel Hill Transit may be unable to operate its exact usual schedules.

Safe T Map and Schedule (pick up and drop off from Chapel Hill Town Hall)

Safe JV Map and Schedule (pick up and drop off from Columbia Street at Sitterson Hall across from Carolina Inn)

Safe G Map and Schedule (pick up and drop off from Columbia Street at Sitterson Hall across from Carolina Inn)


Unless you are a student, there's no way to get home after 9pm - which is at least an hour before things get started uptown. It should be called Ingrown Halloween. :-(
I'm a bit lost on how the tactics are addressing the stated goals of the new Halloween policy.  How is this an improved situation for the people of Chapel Hill if we're making it significantly more difficult for them to get around?  I just got home from work a few minutes ago, and at the moment I'm clueless as to how I'm going to pick up my significant other when she gets done at her job tonight, as she can't take the bus home.  I might let that slide if I felt like the restrictions being put in place were helpful, but honestly I don't feel any safer, and I feel significantly less welcome to attend an event which is purportedly intended for me than I did in years past.
If Chapel Hill and Carrboro continue to go this route, there needs to be more of an effort to let residents know exactly what roads will be blocked or closed so they can makes plans to get home from work places and move children from place to place (or stay put if the can.)

not a student.


but thanks for the info.

It looks like this annual event is going to become more and more an event for UNC students (and those who live within the perimeter).

I don't live in Chapel Hill- but if that's the case, I would think that CH shouldn't be footing the bill for security and cleanup.  The University should take full responsibility for this.


But what do I know- I'm just an "out of towner" in Carrboro. 

Why don't they just put a fence up around Chapel Hill/Carrboro like it was suggested years ago? County residents don't seem to be welcome either.

If you don't mind biking or walking to Franklin Street from Carrboro, you are welcome to park at my house.



That's a nice offer, Maria.  Let me put in that the walk from Carrboro to Franklin Street is quite enjoyable, especially with a companion or two. 
Yes I just made that walk last weekend and it was lovely.

depends on where you live in Carrboro, I guess.


Remember that there have been some gruesome murders this year in the area  (some pretty random). 

The town's not as safe as it used to be- especially when up to 80,000 people (mostly drunk and in costume) are scattering in all directions after midnight- some with guns.


But a morning or afternoon stroll in Carrboro?  I agree.  lovely town.  


(FYI- I've lived here 15 years.) 

I'm going to go over, mainly to take some photos, and also out of curiosity to see how much the changes impact the turn out.

My plan is to park in an undisclosed location and ride in on my fixed gear. I’d ride from home, but that would mean riding down Columbia Street in the dark afterwards.

John Rees


But we watched horror movies for 3 hours on campus to wait for things to get going, and then a group of about 9 of us spent the rest of the night on Franklin St.

 (here we are on campus, I'm 2nd from the left, just about to head out to franklin st.  4 of us were the X-men character Mulitple Man)


Anyone else got costume pictures or party pictures or franklin street pictures to share?

I drove around all night delivering pizzas for a well known pizza delivery company.

Why did Carrboro police close off S. Greensboro Street to inbound traffic?

 Why was the straight/left turn lane of Merritt Mill Road (north bound) at Franklin/Main closed and the right turn lane left open? If anything, the traffic should have been directed NOT to turn right towards downtown Chapel Hill.

I heard a disturbing report about last night. Apparently, despite the success of reducing the crowds & keeping it local, the Chapel Hill Police lined up, locked arms and did a Gestapo sweep of Franklin St.

What is being allowed to happen here?

Mark M,

Not every police action is a 'Gestapo' tactic and you insult an awful lot of dedicated, hard-working police officers by so casually, and perhaps irresponsibly, categorizing with such a term actions of which you don't apparently even have direct knowledge. Certain politicians (not local) I might expect such inflammatory retoric from; I would hope we might expect better here.

George - did you witness the final sweep?


Neither of us witnessed the sweep so you're characterization is based on someone else's description and perhaps their own personal (and perhaps biased) characterization. My characterization (or lack thereof, actually) is based on the fact that I wasn't there.

Locking arms does not necessarily make for a 'Gestapo' tactic. If police have their arms locked then there are no clubs or batons being waved about, there are no hands grabbing at anything, and there are no bodies being wrestled or thrown to the ground (remember the images of the recent ECU football game?). I suspect that locking arms provides the police with a way to clear the street without risking physical entaglement with the people they are trying to move.

You might question whether the police have the right to move people off the street at their discretion but labeling it 'Gestapo', especially when you have only someone else's accounting, is IMO going too far.

by a person who I trust implicitly. That's why I am comfortable communicating it.
Mark has a penchant for provocative labels and name calling. The last time that I point out his name calling, Ruby seemed to be fine with it.  Oh well.
Aw, the heck with it...I'm not feeling passive-aggressive today.

 Let's see if we get an eye witness report.

I got a report from someone I trust who was there. You are saying I'm wrong, yet you have absolutely no info.

Hopefully we'll get someone who was there to clarify this.

You've posted your "Gestapo sweep" rumor publicly 3 times now between here and two threads on OrangeChat. Don't you think that might be a bit excessive for something that is, at this point, unconfirmed? IMHO, we have two excellent police forces in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. I'm not saying they are perfect, but I would personally prefer that you go find some confirmation for this type of allegation before spreading it around publicly. Unconfirmed rumors can take on a life of their own and end up harming innocent people.

Mark, what I think George is talking about is the label you used, not whether or not there was a police sweep. 

I listened to a survivor once who said that he and many of his fellow survivors took great offense to people using labels like "Nazi" and "Gestapo," and using "holocaust" in a loose fashion to describe something.

The reason he took offense he said was because it made trivial the things he survived and so many did not, mainly because not many things since come even close to the horror that he associated with those words.

I agree with George, your "labeling" is a disservice to our law enforcement professionals and our community.

I thought the crowd was huge, but it was comfortable moving up and down Franklin Street, and the sidewalks were mostly clear.

It was slightly weird being the oldest person on the street, most celebrants were students and wearing costumes. There was a very heavy police presence and that was also comforting. There were many families sitting on the side watching the action.

It was fun, and the funniest was a McCain masked lad who feigned a heart attack every few steps with the crowd begging him to survive.......about 8 Sarah Palin's were spotted.

There were a few very drunk students but this obviously happened before they reached Franklin Street.

It was convenient for us, thanks to a uptown neighborhood relative. I am sure the security made it difficult for most Chapel Hill residents who wanted to participate, but it was important to dampen down the crowd size and return the street party to sanity. 


I got bag checked a couple of times as I moved in and out of the controlled area, and they were very decent about it.  I had a shoulder bag carrying camera gear.  My observations were that the police all kept back and out of the flow and were just watching carefully.  The mood of the police was fine.  I was leaving just when the motorcycles were arriving, so I cannot speak for the method they used to clear the street, but you can’t get 40K people to simply step off Franklin Street without some assertive action.


By the way, here are a few photos I took

John Rees
I only live about a mile and half from Franklin Street, but given the slope of MLK and my current condition, it wasn't really walkable. I felt really shut out of my own town.
Mark, as a community leader you really should try to curb your sarcasm and remain civil at all times.  Use your power for good.  Otherwise your influence will diminish. 

I know what you mean, it was much more difficult for many local folks to take part because of these tactics.  I do hope after this year's efforts success in reducing the event by more than half that they will not feel the need to take such drastic measures next year.  It took hours of communication, discussions, calls, e-mails, and instant messages for us to coordinate 9 of us (all Chapel Hill & Carrboro residents) getting to downtown together and back out together.  As a resident of the town I feel that if you have to form an impromptu party planning committee just to figure out how to attend this event, then the officials have gone too far in its restriction.  I was vocal about my opposition to this on local radio & online in a number of places this year, and fully plan to be even more vocal next year if restricting access to downtown for hometown people keeps up.


But in the meantime I am content knowing that with a lot of extra work, some wasted time, and a little extra gas money ferrying people around, things worked out in the end for me atleast... I had other local friends who couldn't make it because of difficulties imposed who would have otherwise taken part.

Did the police lock arms and sweep the street clean?

I heard from a trustworthy source that they did. And that it was done without provocative crowd behavior.

Call it what you will (or ignore the question and revert to knee-jerk praise for "Chapel Hill's finest,etc.") - it's a strong-arm tactic that we should be well aware of & we should understand the implications. 


You made your point without having to resort to inflammatory labels.

"Call it what you will (or ignore the question and revert to knee-jerk praise for "Chapel Hill's finest,etc.") - it's a strong-arm tactic that we should be well aware of & we should understand the implications."

Mark, I'm fine with you asking the questions: did the police lock arms to sweep the street clean? if so, why did they do it?; and was it appropriate to use this tactic?

Those questions can all be asked without the inflammatory retoric and that is all I was trying to say. 




Trucks came in to clean the roads after the festivities ended. See slide #21.

No reports of police locking arms with each other or the public works employees there to sweep the streets.

hmm... dont' know the answer to that Mark, but I will say I had a moment of "are they or aren't they"  when the highway patrol zoomed down the street a couple of times in formation on motorcycles.   My husband swore they were guys in costume--I told him not to test that theory!  

My daughter took a short video from Top of the Hill at midnight, and all I see/hear is a quick squard car blast and an announcement from what sounds like a bull horn to clear the streets.    

I was struck by how much the additional lighting downtown made a difference in how I felt about being downtown in a big crowd.  


Any info?

many, many police both on foot and on motorcycle, and with police cars slowly moved from one end of the street to the other... MANY motorcycles, all close together, the ones on foot out front were getting stragglers to move aside to sidewalks. right behind the motorcade was a whole bunch of large street sweeper machines and (water spraying devices?) kicking up dust and chunks of nasty - there is no way anyone would want go go near those. the entire operation/motorcade basically took up a few blocks length so once they came past there really wasn't any way for people to run out back onto the street behind them. once the police passed some on foot stayed to help keep people off the streets afterwards. everyone pretty much went into a bar or went home, the street sweepers passing up and down the streets combined with the motorcycles and noise made it a very unpleasant place to hang out post-clearing. I went to Fuse where they didn't have the 1AM bev ordinance and danced until 2:15 AM.
  I was totally disappointed the horse cart broke down on the way into town. I was looking forward to the horses.


Thinking about Halloween in Chapel Hill this year I realized we had new leadership in the Police department for this years event. Just wondering how new ideas from new people can change how things are done.

Yes, Chief Curran came up through the ranks to take charge.  He has experience as a street cop, an off-duty security guard, and a vigilant public safety officer.  Town Manager Roger Stancil is new too.  At first I didn't like that he came from Fayetteville, but I've changed my mind.  This is a great example of how new leaders who've worked in the trenches can infuse a municipality with fresh effectiveness.  Chief Curran did a great job of controlling the Halloween crowd with only a month to mobilize. 

If this constitutes "knee-jerk praise for Chapel Hill's finest," I feel fine sticking with my core policy.  Praise makes the world go round.  

This is the manager's second third one; he took over September 1, 2006.

Last year he effectively used the Fayetteville PDs horse unit to help with crowd control.

Around 12:30 am on Halloween night I heard sirens and revved engines approaching from West Franklin Street.  I looked down at the intersection of Columbia & Franklin and was awe-struck by the sea of police vehicles and personnel approaching.  What we were told would be "police on horses" clearing the street at midnight turned into something very frightening.  A line of 10+ police motorcycles came crawling up Franklin first, followed by CHPD/State Trooper cars, and finally TONS of marching policemen & women on foot.  I was aghast!  My first reaction was to yell in protest as the force approached.  This was not the Franklin Street I fell in love with when I moved to Chapel Hill four years ago.  It had been taken over... as though we lived in a police state.  But alas, I quieted down and walked on home.  I couldn't blame the men and women who were out there just doing their jobs.  Still, it was some scary stuff...

Next question: Is this good policy?

"Around 12:30 am on Halloween night ..... But alas, I quieted down and walked on home. I couldn't blame the men and women who were out there just doing their jobs."


I don't know if it is good policy or not because I don't know how other municipalities would handle a potentially rowdy,potentially inebriated crowd of 40-80,000 (remember, the police had no idea going in what the size of the crowd would be). Although the crowd was apparently ONLY 35,000, the Chapel Hill police constituted only 25% of the police officers present. Thus the CH police had to come up with a plan to handle what I consider to be a very, very large crowd with a force of which 3/4 of the members were not their own. You might remember that the incident down at ECU involved officers that had been brought in from other jurisdictions to help. You can't be sure of the training of the outside officers nor can you be sure how directions will be handled through various chains of command.

The anonymous poster did not say that anyone was manhandled or anything like that. They didn't even criticize the officers directly. They just didn't like the fact that it was not the Chapel Hill they so fondly remember. I don't think anyone else likes that either but unfortunately there are no easy answers on how to handle a crowd (including drinkers) that is confined to a very small area and that approximates, in size, the entire population of the town.

Any ideas?


I think that ending the party at a specific time (as was announced before the event) is good policy.  I don't know if there was any better way to enforce it.  My guess is that just politely asking people to leave wouldn't have been very effective.

It's been a while, but I've thrown a few parties where I wish I'd had en equally effective way of getting guests who have worn out their welcome to go home.

First of all, you begin by acknowledging that the crowd is now composed primarily of people who live here, unlike previous years. In that spirit of respect for local citizens, you creatively communicate with your friends & neighbors.

You have several "curtain calls" whereby officers (and/or possibly non-uniformed citizen "party  peacekeepers" - with a little brainstorming some fun title could be dreamed up) move through the crowd and tell folks that the evening is coming to a close. Do this for a half-hour or so and then see what needs to be done. Maybe nothing. But if there are still folks hanging around, do the minimum required to clear the street.

It sounds like what happened was like cutting butter with a chainsaw.


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