Downtown plans expenses, safety procedure for Halloween

Drew Parker

In Kent’s Halloween celebration has gained popularity over the last few decades, and although the city does not officially sanction the event, precautions are made by bars, police and fire departments each year.

Kent fire and police departments hosted a roundtable meeting to discuss Halloween safety with bar owners at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

Lt. James Samels, fire prevention officer for the Kent Fire Department, said he hopes the meeting helped bar owners and employees with awareness for safety on popular party nights. Samels said the main goal for the fire department will be to keep bars from exceeding capacity and keeping exits open.

“This is an important relationship to keep patrons and bar workers safe,” Samels said. “We want them to be aware of their surroundings and what to expect when there is a problem.”

On a typical Saturday night in downtown Kent, the Kent police department would have about five to seven officers on patrol, and the fire department would have seven firefighters on duty. This Saturday, both forces will be fully staffed with 38 Kent police officers and 30 firefighters, along with the Metro SWAT team and other emergency personnel.

Lt. James Prusha of the Kent Police Department said the department helps ensure safety throughout the night.

“There’s been more violence and fights over the past couple years,” Prusha said. “We’re hoping that bars have their bouncers prepared for the night, and we can help if any problems occur.”

Charlie Thomas became the owner of Ray’s Place in 1978 and has since noticed an evolution of the holiday weekend over the years.

“Years ago, the celebration was always on the actual day of Halloween. About 25 years ago, it started on the Saturday before Halloween, even if Halloween is on a Friday,” Thomas said.

Thomas said although he has to increase his staff for the evening, he doesn’t make more revenue than he would on a typical Saturday.

“People typically come in to parade around in their outfit and buy one or two drinks,” Thomas said. “It’s a different atmosphere.”

Water Street Tavern manager J.J. Wray plans for a busy night this Halloween and hopes the bar will benefit from additional police and fire protection.

“We’re staffed to the max on Halloween,” Wray said. “We’re going to have as many customers at the bar as humanly possible. It’ll help to be on the same page with (the fire department) on evacuations and capacity issues if needed.”

Contact Drew Parker at [email protected].