Mark your calendar: Oct. 25

Nick Baker

Bars, police remain uncertain about Oct. 31 weekend

As is tradition in Kent, on the Saturday before Oct. 31, streets, bars (and maybe jails) will be jam-packed with inebriated, shivering and half-dressed college students. The city will step up security and the bars will stock up coolers.

Kent will transform into a spectacle in which the Blues Brothers, Wayne and Garth, Roman soldiers, sexy French maids, nurses and that guy (the one wearing a costume nobody really recognizes) all pour out into the streets in mad revelry that could only happen on Halloween.

This year, Kent is looking at the potential for two or even three such nights.

Kent’s unofficial but understood day of celebration will still be next Saturday, Oct. 25. But this year Halloween – the actual one on Oct. 31 – falls on a Friday. That means some may celebrate in Kent the Saturday after Halloween, too, the same day Ohio University will have their equally reputable Halloween festivities.

Capt. Michelle Lee of the Kent Police Department said the city is anticipating larger crowds Oct. 25, but wants to wait and see how things go that weekend in order to prepare for the weekend of Oct. 31.

“It’s up to the city,” Lee said. “We base our plan of attack – so to speak – based on what the bars are going to do. We’ll add staffing to patrols, add staffing for communication so we have more dispatchers and add staffing to jail facilities.”

Lee added that weather can play a major role in security for both weekends.

“We’ll wait and see what happens on the 25th,” Lee said. “If the weather is bad, then there may be a decline in activity (on Oct. 25). And if the weather’s bad, we’ll expect more people out on the 31st.”

According to Tom Creech, chief financial officer of Ray’s Place, Halloween was not always celebrated on the prior Saturday.

“Years ago, like the early ’80s, late ’70s, I know Halloween was celebrated on Halloween, on the 31st,” Creech said. “After that though, the last 10 or 15 years, it morphed into the Saturday before Halloween, but it was never mandated or anything.”

Creech said although the Saturday before Halloween is accepted as Kent’s party day – a busy day for bars – the Kent Licensed Beverage Association, which is made up of all bars and alcohol distributors in Kent, never decided a specific day.

“For all intents and purposes, it’s out of our hands,” Creech said. “We’re just along for the ride.”

Kent bar owners and police say various reasons exist for having a standard party day in Kent. One is that the city and university need to prepare extra police and security. And to some, it gives an excuse to go wild twice in the span of a week, should students choose to celebrate more than once.

Water Street Tavern manager James Burge said having one accepted day of celebration makes things easier on everybody.

“(Ohio University’s) is the Saturday of Halloween, so we have ours a week before so as not to compete,” Burge said. “It cuts the confusion out for some for people.”

He added though that people like the chance to celebrate all over again outside Kent.

“It does mean two Halloweens, too,” Burge said. “Some people stay in Kent or come to Kent to party, but then they’ll go to OU or they’ll go to Columbus and celebrate there, too.”

With Halloween falling on a Friday this year, however, bars and students alike are expecting a potential seven-day party in Kent.

Mike Stein, junior business management major, said not only could it be twice the fun, but it could be good for the local economy.

“Well first, it’s cool with me to celebrate it twice,” Stein said. “I mean, it probably won’t be as crazy both weekends, but it’s like party times two.

“It’s good for business though, too, like for the city,” he added. “That’s more people at the bars and more people waking up hung over in the morning going out to eat.”

Burge said Water Street Tavern was anticipating two big weekends.

“We’re doing our normal thing on the 25th, where all the employees dress up with a common theme and stuff,” Burge said. “But we’re also having an Elvis impersonator here on Halloween, and we expect people to be out both nights. There will probably even be a lot of people out on Saturday, Nov. 1st.”

Others aren’t as stoked about how the days fell this year.

Collin Bruning, junior sports administration major and Maryland native, said common sense and the calendar messed up his Halloween plans.

“I’m a little disappointed,” Bruning said. “All my buddies are coming up from Maryland like they did last year. Only, we figured that everyone would be partying the weekend of Halloween, so they decided to come up then, and not the 25th, and they definitely aren’t gonna plan out two trips from Maryland.”

Lee said two Halloweens could also be tough on those not celebrating, such as city employees.

“It’s a definite strain on city resources,” Lee said. “Not just the police department, but the fire department, ambulances. There’s a lot of people working overtime, putting in extra hours.”

Creech shared their sentiments.

“Personally, I’d rather there was just one day. It would make things easier.” Creech said. “But, because of when Halloween is, it will probably be a party that lasts six days.”

Contact off-campus entertainment reporter Nick Baker at [email protected].