Halloween Trick: Bank-rolling Boozing

Local teen alcohol awareness activist Dale Pratt-Wilson asks if the $225,000 spent managing Downtown’s Halloween booze-fest is worth it:

Wow…What an awesome use of my tax dollars! I am especially pleased with having to pay for twenty-one Orange County EMS calls related to drunkenness.

It would be interesting to see a cost analysis of what the town earned in tax revenue and fees etc. vs. funds expended for manpower both law enforcement and civilian and finally the crews needed to clean up the mess.

As the night rolls on and families have gone home, this financial extravaganza amounts to nothing more than a drunk-fest. If you don’t believe me, ask any of the 385 officers being paid to work this gig.

Why are we bank-rolling this party? Help me and the other citizens to understand the thinking behind this decision.

I’ve disagreed with some of Dale’s tactics but she’s got an excellent question here, does the investment merit the return?

When I first moved to Greenville to attend ECU, Halloween was “banned” Downtown. In the mid-’70’s, there had been a tear-gassing police riot that shutdown the festivities and, in 1980, the town was still in no mood for downtown parties.

The constitutionality of the town’s Halloween crackdown was questionable but the outcome was quite effective – step off the sidewalk, congregate or wear a mask and get arrested.

Eventually Halloween returned to downtown Greenville and by the time I graduated folks were puking their guts up in downtown alleys, getting their heads bashed in during drunken brawls and damaging private property for blocks around. Adding to the volatile mix – tensions from out-of-town visitors like Jacksonville’s and Fayetteville’s young recruits, gangs out of Raleigh and university students from State, UNC-CH and UNC-W – which often resulted in some rather nasty incidents.

I’m not sure the best course of action to take in managing our Halloween but letting it continue to escalate in cost and taking on a riskier profile with no clear return to the citizenry doesn’t make sense.

Time for a community confab to sort out what we value most from this Chapel Hill tradition and preserve those elements we, as a community, find most appealing.





6 responses to “Halloween Trick: Bank-rolling Boozing”

  1. George Entenman Avatar

    Sorry to disagree with you, Will.

    Just who is Dale Pratt-Wilson to talk? Her own organization is living off of our tax dollars: I think I read in the papers that it got $100K in federal money.

    What do they do with our money? They print lots of anti-alcohol propaganda that sees no difference between binge and moderate drinking. Pratt-Wilson is incapable of seeing gradients in anything.

    And what is the most tangible effect of Pratt-Wilson’s work? You guessed it: increased police and judicial crackdowns on our children! She encourages the police to break up parties, scattering inebriated teenager to the winds (in their cars, I might add) – all in order to “keep our children safe”!!!??

    I, for one, am happy that our EMS services were there to help revelers. And who is she – and you? – to decide that we should “allow” Halloween only if our town makes money from it? Is that the only reason to do things?

    — ge

  2. WillR Avatar

    George, thanks for the reply. As I said, I don’t agree with Dale’s tactics and have questioned our Town’s support before. Remember the issue with arresting parents or keg registration?

    But, in spite of the rhetoric the Strom campaign is spewing, I actually believe that folks I generally disagree with can contribute positively to the dialog – even if accidentally 😉

    In this case, I think she’s right to raise the question. Here’s what I said over on the N&O’s blog.

    Jason Baker responded to Dale’s letter thus:

    Because otherwise, we’d be negligently allowing people to die. I sincerely doubt that a lack of proper supervision would cause people to stop making poor decisions on Halloween. The size of the crowd might dwindle, but it wouldn’t go away – we’d just be endangering lives.

    I said:

    Jason, while we have a responsibility to safely manage the celebration you have to ask where the limits exist. Is it a good use of our Town’s limited resources (at least I think they’re limited) on an ever expanding Halloween party that contributes little to the greater community? Should we draw a line at 100,000 revelers and 500 law enforcement folks? Should we draw the line at $400,000? Or, like some of our Council folks want with our Town’s growth, are we obligated to cram as many celebrants as we can into as small a space as possible, cost – in monetary and social terms – be damned?

    So, no blank check for Dale because I think she raised a legitimate question but also a recognition that the party size has to be managed better.

  3. WillR Avatar

    George, do the Halloween helicopters “orbit” over your house? I wonder if they get that far south. They definitely fly over Mt. Bolus (usually from 5pm to 3am Halloween).

  4. George Entenman Avatar


    I didn’t notice anything unusual from my house down by Morgan Creek.

    BTW, I just noticed this letter to the Daily Tarheel: http://media.www.dailytarheel.com/media/storage/paper885/news/2007/11/02/LettersToTheEditor/Sexual.Harassment.Wasnt.Taught.At.The.Academy-3074205.shtml

    Can I use HTML markup here? Let me try that link again.

    — ge

  5. WillR Avatar

    Wow!!! I hope that someone looks into this – she should report the incident to our local law enforcement and let Chief Curran pursue it.

    About a year ago I saw an ALE “raid” (at least it looked like a raid) happening mid-block Franklin. Guys drove up with a light going, jumped out in full regalia looking like something from a Ridley Scott production. Never found out what that was about but. man, were those guys strutting like cocks on the walk.

    That’s why I took on the keg registration issue – just another way to violate due process – and, at least from my perspective, an avenue for abuse of powers.

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