Madison is seeking to change the character of its Halloween celebration on State Street this year, but will students stick to the calendar and keep Saturday the main event?
Fencing will surround State Street on Saturday, but the popular downtown street will remain wide open on Friday night.
The city is trying to recoup costs for policing and make State Street safer by fencing it off on Saturday night. It's providing food and entertainment areas to ticket holders. The tickets cost $5, which has frustrated some students.
"Most of my friends have said they're going to do what they always do on Halloween, go out both nights and see what happens," Christie Penn with the Associated Students of Madison says.
However, what happens if a larger crowd turns out the night before the main event, when no one needs a ticket to enter State Street?
"The staffing numbers are going to mirror from one day to the next. So we're going to be prepared Friday and Saturday, making sure we have everything in place to handle any problems whatsoever," Madison Police Officer Howard Payne says.
Payne is optimistic about the city's plan. He says other events, including hockey and football games on Saturday, will keep people busy, all weekend.
Mike Verveer has heard of no organized effort to switch Halloween to Friday. He says Saturday is simply too popular with students who come in from out of town. "Most students I've talked to, yeah, they're not excited about having to pay $5 and securing a ticket, but it's really not the biggest deal in the world to them,” he explains. “So I would be very, very surprised if Friday night turned out to be substantially larger than in past years."
"I think it's definitely possible. I think it's important to remember Friday is always a pretty large event anyways," Penn says.
The city Parks Division reports more than 1500 tickets have been sold, with more than two weeks left. However, police say they are well prepared for whatever might happen on Friday or Saturday. They expect to release specific plans the week before the event.
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