Duke students will not be invited to spend Halloween on Franklin Street this year.
Concerned that the size of the decades-old Halloween celebration-which drew an estimated crowd of 80,000 last year-has posed unmanageable public safety issues and forced unfair costs on the town, authorities hope to make it a private party for Chapel Hill residents and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students only.
As part of the newly announced "Homegrown Halloween" campaign, Chapel Hill Town Manager Roger Stancil approved plans to cancel Chapel Hill Transit shuttles and limit traffic lanes into the downtown area Friday to keep the number of attendees down.
"We're having a party at Chapel Hill-it's a Halloween party. But you are not invited. It's a local party," Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy told WRAL, addressing the tens of thousands who come to Chapel Hill from all over the region each year.
Town officials have made it clear that outsiders will not be welcome, but sophomore Andrew Brown, Duke Student Government's Vice President for Durham and Regional Affairs, said Blue Devils should be allowed to crash the party.
"The Duke community and [UNC] are inextricably linked," he said.
Brown said he hopes organizations like the Duke University Union and Campus Council will rent charter buses to transport students to and from Franklin Street as they have in the past, regardless of the town's efforts to stop Duke students from coming.
DUU President Chamindra Goonewardene, a senior, said the Union would not make a decision about chartering buses until Tuesday.
Many students said their nights would not be complete without the traditional exodus to Chapel Hill.
"That sucks," sophomore Kase Diehl said. "It's an awesome Halloween party.... If it goes down we'll have to plan our own, but I don't think Duke can match 80,000 people."
Other students said they would have declined an invitation to Chapel Hill regardless.
"I've been [to Halloween on Franklin Street], and I'm definitely not going again," said sophomore Julia Hickey.
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After only 15 minutes at the festivities, Hickey and her friends wanted to leave because they felt the chaotic crowds made for an unsafe partying environment. But Hickey said they were forced to take a cab back to campus because the Duke buses were swamped with Blue Devils invading the Tar Heels' turf for a night.
"We thought it would be mostly [UNC] kids, but it definitely wasn't," Hickey said.
Erik Knelson, a student in the School of Medicine, grew up in Durham and has been celebrating Halloween on Franklin Street since he was in high school. Over the years, he has watched the celebration grow larger and attract different types of people.
"I have noticed there are a lot more people not dressed up in recent years," Knelson said. He added that the party-goers appear to have changed from mostly college students to a "creepy" crowd.
The town may also limit alcohol sales in the downtown area by either declaring a state of emergency or reaching an agreement with bar and restaurant owners.
Stancil met with local owners to discuss the alcohol policy Sept. 26. Although Chapel Hill Councilman Mark Kleinschmidt said some downtown businesses provided "very reasoned arguments" for why alcohol sales should not be limited, Greg Overbeck, who is a member of the Chapel Hill Restaurant Group and owns three restaurants in town, said he and other local businessmen support the city's efforts.
"People aren't coming to eat," Overbeck said. "Very few restaurants stay open for Halloween... although some bars may benefit."
Chapel Hill Councilman Ed Harrison said Foy does not wish to declare a state of emergency and hopes an agreement with local business owners can be reached.
Town officials will announce their decision on an alcohol policy Oct. 15.