Kent’s Halloween Prep

Brittany Hill

You can feel the spookiness in the air as one of Kent’s most anticipated nights of the year draws closer. Throughout the day Saturday and stretching into the early morning Sunday, the streets of downtown Kent will see an estimated 30,000 ghouls and gals in various costumes with varying sobriety levels. Such an influx of people calls for a lot of planning, and Kent is ready.

The Kent Police Department will be receiving additional assistance Saturday from local units including the Brimfield Police Department, Kent State University Police Department, Ohio Highway Patrol, the Portage County Sheriff’s Office and Metro SWAT. Kent Police Captain Paul Canfield expects to have roughly 100 officers on duty, ready for the night’s events.

Because Kent’s jail can only hold a small number of individuals, only seven if prisoners are staying overnight, the police department has a back-up plan to accommodate the notoriously high number of arrests made the Saturday before Halloween. A full-size PARTA bus will be on hand to house the overflow, and, if that fills up, those arrested will be transported to the Portage County Jail.

Canfield also said that this year, the police department is taking extra precautions because of all of the construction in progress downtown.

“We’ll be stationing private security around the construction areas,” Canfield said. “You don’t want people mixing alcohol and walking through construction zones, anything could happen.”

Although it may be unsafe to mix Kent Halloween-goers with the new development this year, once it’s complete, it will be a different story. Kent Economic Development Director Dan Smith said “the entire downtown project was specifically designed to accommodate street activity.”

Smith said he himself goes downtown every year to enjoy the festivities, and although some drunken party-goers may cause some trouble, it’s an event he and the city of Kent support, plan for and enjoy.

“From attending the event myself, I know [the police] are not looking to bang on students or anybody,” Smith said. “It’s not students always making the trouble. I think probably, more often than not, it’s people who aren’t Kent State University students that come into town just for the festivities that cause the trouble, but I think our police force is very tolerant … Obviously there is $106 million of new investment coming downtown and the police are here to protect that.”

Smith said the holiday is also something local businesses look forward to.

“Cash registers ring on Halloween,” Smith said.

Sherry Dakes, owner of local consignment shop Einstein’s Attic, said Halloween is undoubtedly their busiest time of the year. The shop has racks of Halloween-worthy clothes and accessories as well as rows of mannequins dressed in a hodgepodge of secondhand articles. Together, these items form a unique take on classic Halloween costumes such as Mario, a French maid or Batman’s sidekick, Robin.

“We’ve been doing it for 10 years,” Dakes said. “So we kind of know what people are looking for. They like to put their own stuff together, but we hang things up in case people come in without ideas. We look for this stuff all year long.”

Ray’s Place manager Chris Cowles said the restaurant anticipates being at capacity, 205 people downstairs and 136 upstairs, the whole night, so plan to wait in line.

“We pretty much have it down to a procedure at this point,” Cowles said.

Ray’s will have two employees at each door and two managers to help with identifying costumed customers. Between waiting in line and taking the time to have one of Ray’s staff examine your face-painted mug, it may take you a while to get in, but Cowles said “it’s all fun fun fun after that.”

Contact Brittany Hill at [email protected].