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Chapel Hill police plan tighter Halloween restrictions

Fifty thousand costumed revelers flooded the streets of downtown Chapel Hill last Halloween, as they have for the past 20 years. This year, tighter regulations may lead some to find other places to celebrate.

In an Oct. 4 press release, the Chapel Hill Police Department outlined its concerns about the excessive crowd, and the toll it has taken on the town. This Halloween, revelers can expect minimal parking, limited road access and at least 100 more law enforcement officers.

Jane Cousins, spokesperson for CHPD, said the tighter restrictions stem from resident complaints and safety concerns.

"Residents are tired of people parking on their lawns and littering in their yards," Cousins said.

The police department has notified area residents and businesses and asked for feedback.

"We've had a very positive response [to the announcement] so far," Cousins added.

The goals of the new limits are to make the Halloween celebration a smaller, more local event and to minimize inconvenience to residents, Cousins said.

Some Duke students, many of whom travel to Chapel Hill each year, said they would appreciate more security, citing previous negative experiences on Halloween.

Sophomore Rose Acoraci, for example, said she doubted she will go back to Chapel Hill this year.

She said she enjoyed seeing the costumes last year, but that she was less than impressed by crowd control and the lack of parking.

To solve the parking dilemma, senior Vik Devisetty, president of Campus Council, hoped both this year and last to offer bus service to Chapel Hill, but the plan failed due to lack of support.

Even though security has been increasing at large events across the country in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Cousins the tighter regulations were already planned beforehand. She said the issue has become even more important to residents in recent weeks.

"The events of Sept. 11 have influenced people's thoughts and actions more than they have influenced our policies, as far as I can see," Cousins said.

Duke students do not appear to be worried about terrorist attacks in deciding whether or not to brave the crowds. Chris Chandler, a junior, said jokingly that bioterrorism could be the biggest safety concern. Others cited weather, parking and getting separated from friends as larger worries.

However, the lure of Halloween in Chapel Hill seems to be in the tradition more than the event itself--many students said they were disappointed by their experiences. "I haven't been to Chapel Hill for Halloween since my freshman year because it was so chaotic," said senior Catherine Jacobs.

"I might go this year just to be nostalgic, and it would be great if I didn't feel like I was drowning in a sea of people."

Ameliorating that drowning feeling is exactly what CHPD hopes to do. Cousins said that making guests feel safe and protecting residents' privacy are the primary concerns of the department.

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