City officials plan for Halloween block party

Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl’s mid-week press conferences usually attract little-to-no attendees.

But not every Wednesday is the Wednesday before the famous Athens Halloween Block Party.

“The city will be closing off all of Uptown at once,” Wiehl said at his news conference.

Wiehl was flanked by Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle, Deputy Service Safety Director Ron Lucas and Athens Clean and Safe Halloween Committee Chair Jonathan Holmberg, who’s helped plan the event since 1988. 

Court Street will be closed from Mulberry to Carpenter streets, beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday, as will the side streets from Congress to College streets. 

Despite the inevitable intoxication of the crowd that will convene there, Pyle said he doesn’t expect anything crazy or out of the ordinary to happen.

But he still will increase the number of officers from throughout Ohio who work that night, as he does every year.

On a typical Saturday (in Athens), we have four officers out. We will have well over than 20 or 30 times that (at this year’s Athens Halloween  Block Party).

A large amount of state liquor agents will also patrol Court Street, Holmberg said. 

“They take Halloween very seriously,” he said.

An information booth will be set up at Ohio University’s office space at 31 S. Court St. for lost items and to give assistance and directions.

The kiosk gets a lot more use than one may expect, Lucas said, adding that the city “returned a lot of credit cards and wallets last year.”

For problems that can’t be solved by stopping by the lost-and-found, Holmberg encouraged party-goers to talk to the officers Uptown.

“The police are your friends Uptown on Halloween,” he said.

Parking will be unavailable on the west half of Mill Street, from Lash to Curtis streets, beginning Friday at noon, but the roads will still be open to moving traffic.

Per tradition, Court will be straddled by two stages featuring musical performances lasting from 6:30 p.m. until about one in the morning. 

A third stage — which made its debut last year — will be in the parking lot across from the Court Street Diner and will host the costume contest.

The contest will take place at 9 p.m., but Holmberg urged participants to get there at least at 8:30 p.m. 

“The stage is a lot bigger,” Holmberg said of the third stage. “We also will have a bigger light show.”

A shuttle system will be available at the Athens County Fairgrounds on West Union Street. It will run from 5 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Friday and from 3 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Saturday. 

The shuttle will make stops at The Convo, Shafer Street and Union Street. Each ride will cost $1.

“Be safe, have a good contact, don’t go Uptown and drink by yourself and have an exit plan,” Holmberg said, though he mentioned that anyone underage shouldn’t be drinking anyway.

“Have a good time and be nice to each other,” Wiehl said.



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