Halloween Extravaganza turnout low; still a success

Steve Bushong

A severe thunderstorm, near-freezing temperatures and racing wind didn’t stop Kent State Police Services and its volunteers from setting up the Halloween Extravaganza underneath White Hall’s overhang Saturday night.

But even though neither rain nor hail fell on the festival, the Halloween Extravaganza’s turnout was disappointingly low, Lt. Bill Buckbee said.

“The people who showed up had a good time,” he said.

Earlier in the night, Officer Alice Ickes and volunteers from Police Role, a criminal justice class, set up a perimeter fence around White Hall. The fence would later be decorated with spider webs and Halloween lights.

Ickes attempted to hammer a support for the fence into the compacted-rock ground.

“Forget it; it’s not worth it,” Ickes said. Improvising, she said, “There’s a whole truck full of saw horses, use those.” It didn’t appear Ickes and her crew would have everything together in time.

Deanna Caplinger, sophomore criminal justice major, and Jodie Hathaway, senior criminal justice major, thought it’d all get done. They carried case after case of Coca-Cola to a tent donated by Papa John’s Pizza.

By 9 p.m., the Halloween Extravaganza was ready. Crowds of students migrating from the residence halls to downtown were signaled to the events by Buckbee, who asked, “Would you like some free pizza?” and instructed, “Race toilets.”

Many students took pizza. Some raced toilets.

Monique McCreary, sophomore early childhood development major, raced her friend, math major Tim Bishop, on the motorized toilet.

“It was nice sitting on a toilet and not taking a dump,” McCreary said. She won the race.

Mike Rychka, 19, of Brunswick, rode the mechanical bull.

“That’s the most amazing ride ever,” he said excitedly, after being thrown into the inflated walls surrounding the bull.

George Howe, the ride’s operator, said the trick is holding on tight with your knees and leaning with the bull’s motions.

Even a costume contest, offering an X-box, gas cards and scholarships for prizes, attracted only about 100 people. Winners will be announced in the coming weeks, Buckbee said.

Buckbee said this year’s festivals will be evaluated and improved next year. He said police will make the event more visible and advertise better – improvements that could bring a bigger crowd.

But, despite the crowd’s size, Buckbee said the event wasn’t a loss.

“If we diverted a single person from drinking too much, then I think we accomplished something,” he said. “We just want to make a difference.”

Contact safety reporter Steve Bushong at [email protected].