If you’re heading to Franklin Street Monday night, go early and leave the light sabers and dog at home.
The town has moved the street-closing celebration up a half hour, from 8 to 10:30 p.m. in a continuing effort to make “Homegrown Halloween” a more local, family-oriented event.
A decade ago, up to 80,000 people packed Franklin Street, resulting in arrests, property damage and ambulance trips to the hospital for drunken revelers.
Since scaling back, crowds have come down and so have the problems. There were 40,000 people last year, but it was a Saturday night. The previous five years, the crowd ranged from 22,000 to 32,000, according to town statistics.
Even with the slightly larger crowd, there were no arrests or citations last year. None of the 10 people seen for alcohol-related reasons had to be taken to the hospital for further treatment.
“I think the number of families (coming downtown) gets more and more,” police spokesman Lt. Josh Mecimore said Thursday.
Beginning at 8 p.m., these streets will be closed to vehicle traffic:
▪ East Franklin Street, from Raleigh Street to Columbia Street.
▪ East Cameron Avenue, from Raleigh Street to South Columbia Street.
▪ Henderson Street, from East Rosemary Street to East Franklin Street.
Police will direct traffic at the intersection of Franklin and Columbia streets to keep traffic moving north and south. Drivers on Columbia Street will be able to turn onto West Franklin Street (toward Carrboro) or continue north (toward Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) or south (toward the hospital).
Stopping and unloading passengers will not be permitted at this intersection.
“We want to preserve access to the hospital whenever we can,” Police Chief Chris Blue said. “Shifting the western event perimeter to the east of Columbia Street helps us meet this interest.”
Residential streets near downtown will be closed at 5 p.m. except to residents of those streets and their guests.
There will be limited parking in town lots close to downtown; there will be no place for charter buses to drop off or pick up passengers.
Vehicles parked illegally and on streets being closed will be towed beginning at 6 p.m., with a minimum recovery cost of $105 plus the cost of the ticket.
Halloween remains an expensive night for the town, costing nearly $200,000 a year for public safety officers and cleanup.
Mecimore estimated there will be nearly 200 officers on the streets, twice the size of the town’s department, with the town hiring extra officers for the night from every law enforcement agency in the county.
Schultz: 919-829-8950; @chapelhillnews1
Don’t bring these
Town ordinances and state statutes prohibit the following items in the closed area:
▪ Alcoholic Beverages
▪ Glass Bottles
▪ Fireworks and Explosives
▪ Flammable Substances
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.