Athens Ohio Halloween Block Party
|Athens Halloween Block Party|
|Date(s)||Saturday falling closest to October 31st|
|Location(s)||Athens, Ohio United States|
|Inaugurated||October 31, 1974|
|Participants||Ohio University students, college students statewide|
Halloween in Athens Ohio is an annual Block Party in Uptown Athens, Ohio. Although called a Block Party the festivities span several blocks and revelers can be found at house parties around the city. On the closest Saturday to Halloween, Court Street in Uptown Athens is closed to traffic and stages are set up to provide entertainment to the crowds. An estimated 10,000 to 30,000 party-goers dressed in all manner of costume descend upon the City of Athens with a population of 23,832. The city’s population can double overnight. Ohio University, in its attempts to limit the number of individuals from outside the Athens Ohio community, only allows each student living in the dorms to have one guest stay for the weekend. The University spends roughly $90,000 a year in security and safety measures for the campus. The City of Athens brings in Police forces from surrounding counties to help with crowd control and safety.
Parking for out of town partiers is available in the City of Athens parking garage just off Court Street and at the Athens County Fairgrounds on the west side of the city. Since 1998 Ohio University has blocked off lots to any vehicles not displaying a valid parking permit. The city of Athens has traditionally charged for parking at the Fairgrounds as a way to offset the costs of additional police and emergency response teams. Ohio University provides alternative activities for students that don’t want to deal with the crowds uptown. The activities range from movie showings to open swims in the aquatic center, and even an open stage in the University’s coffee shop.
Origins and history
The annual Halloween Block Party in Athens, Ohio has its roots in 1974 when costumed partiers halted traffic on Court Street in uptown Athens for two hours on Halloween night. 1975 is known as the forgotten year. Homecoming and Halloween fell on the same weekend and no mention is made in local newspapers or any publications of an uptown block party. 1976 brought the crowds back to Court Street and uptown Athens. Court Street was closed at 11 P.M. by the Athens Police Department. Fifteen partiers were arrested through the night. In 1977 The Athens City Council passed a resolution closing Court Street to traffic and allowing an official Halloween celebration. Ohio University officials planned activities, including a costume contest, live music, and a four by eight foot cake to be served to party goers. Sixty-five people were arrested in 1977. 1978 marked the second year the block party was endorsed by the Athens City Council and University officials. 124 partiers were arrested. Of those, fourteen were Ohio University students. Because of the high arrest numbers in 1978, the City of Athens and Ohio University dropped their sponsorship of the festivities in 1979. Despite the lack of official recognition the Block Party happened anyway. Court Street was closed at 9:30 P.M. 141 people were arrested on Halloween weekend in 1979. The annual event continued to grow through the 80’s and 90’s without University or City support until 1990 when the Block Party was recognized by the City of Athens again.
2010 block party
The 2010 Halloween Bash saw larger crowds than prior years, but arrests were down from previous years. Temperatures were mild and stages were placed at the intersections of Court St. and State St. and Court St. and Union St. Seventy eight arrests were made by the Athens Police Department between 9:30 P.M. Saturday and 3:30 A.M. Sunday. A fire was reported at the Athena Movie Theatre that caused minor damage.
All indications point towards a continuation of the Halloween Block Party in Athens. Several articles in major publications promise to spread the word of the party. Ohio University and the City of Athens continue to refine their plan to deal with the crowds and over the past few years arrests have been down.
- Tampke, Dale (2011), Ohio University Prepares for Athens’ Halloween event, Athens, OH: Ohio University, retrieved 2011-09-19
- A Journey Through the History of Halloween in Athens, Athens, OH: The Athens News, 2009, retrieved 2011-09-19
- 10 TV (2010), Larger Crowd, Fewer Arrests Reported In Athens Halloween Party, Columbus OH: The Dispatch Broadcast Group, p. 1, retrieved 2011-09-20
- Shugar, Mark (2006), Halloween In Athens, Sports Illustrated, retrieved 2011-09-19
- Hollow, Betty (2003). Ohio University 1804-2004: Spirit Of Singular Place. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press. ISBN 978-0-8214-1523-8.
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