Bobcats should plan ahead for Halloween festivities, Ohio University and Athens officials advise

I have never done Halloween right.

For years, I’ve fallen victim to some mishap or another, from getting lost in sketchy neighborhoods to receiving copious amounts of apples and toothbrushes in my candy bag. That didn’t change much once I got to Ohio University.

While you may have hit up some “lit” parties during your younger days, the Athens Halloween Block Party is a whole other game. Though it’s no longer like the hostile street takeovers from the 70s, Halloween can still present safety issues and concerns for those in attendance.

That being said, I’ve compiled advice from various Athens officials on how to make sure you get the best out of your Halloween and just maybe avoid a trip to the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail.



First and foremost, avoid getting arrested.

Despite shots being fired on Court Street at last year’s block party, police and city officials maintain that they will not be ramping up security any more than they have in previous years.

“We don’t think there is reason to believe that we are at more of a risk,” Ohio University Police Department’s Lt. Tim Ryan said.

Along with the normal, friendly faces of officials from OUPD and the Athens Police Department, officers from across Southeast Ohio will converge on Uptown in preparation for the annual debauchery, resulting in anywhere from $50,000 to $60,000 paid out in overtime, Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl said.

And, of course, with any celebration, arrests are high.

Last year, 64 party goers found themselves in cuffs by the end of the night.

Another commonly made mistake — at least one that was seen a lot last year by this reporter — is people not knowing their limits and doing questionable things.

The best advice I’ve ever heard came from an upperclassman, wise in the ways of OU parties: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Translation: Know your limits, take your time and don’t end up passed out on a friend’s couch with a trashcan under one arm and a box of Cheez-Its under the other.

Alcohol offenses are prevalent during festivities, according to police officials.

“We see an influx in alcohol and drug arrests,” Ryan said.

OU students picked up by police can also face consequences from the university.

“Students are most often cited for alcohol and alcohol-related violations,” OU spokesman Dan Pittman said in an email.



Don’t pet the horses without permission.

Astride their furry steeds, the mounted police can often be found amid a crowd of excited college students during a particularly rowdy weekend.

Though your first instinct may be to become overrun by your childhood dream of owning your very own pony and run up to pet the horse, STOP. Don’t forget your manners.

APD Chief Tom Pyle maintained that partygoers need to consult with the mounted officer before petting police horses for various reasons.

“One thing the handler needs to be sure that people aren’t feeding the horses,” Pyle said. “That’s a big no-no because … the horses all have their own particular diets. We don’t allow that for fear that somebody might surreptitiously poison the horse or give it something that unsettles it and takes it out of commission.”

According to the Ohio Revised Code, anyone who pets or feeds a police horse without permission can receive a second-degree misdemeanor, which could land someone in the hooscow for up to 90 days.

Though the horses have been heavily trained, it doesn’t mean that they are immune to crowds, Pyle said.

“Not that the horse would hurt anybody if it got startled, but repeated jolts to the horse could put it into a cranky mood,” Pyle said.

And we wouldn’t want that.



You won’t have phone service, so plan out a place to meet your friends.

In an age so saturated with apps, selfies and Tinder matches, it’s a little shocking to hear that you may have trouble sending out a tweet or a text during the Halloween festivities.

What it comes down to is population increase.

“Everything saturates out from cell phones,” Wiehl said. “You’ve got 20,000 people trying to talk to each other and shoot selfies in costumes. Everything gets bogged down.”

The best way to avoid stranded friends and make the perfect memories with your besties during the block party is to plan ahead. Decide on a location to meet up at if anyone gets lost, whether it be in front of Chipotle Mexican Grill or back at home.

“The big thing is that we always tell people to write down the address for which they’re staying,” Pyle said. “Inevitably, we run into people that are lost. … When a person gets heavily influenced by alcohol they tend to not remember geography so well.”

Pyle also suggested that people carry around a couple dollars, just in case.

“We always tell people to carry about $200 on them in a sock or something — bond money,” he said.



Lost your phone? It may be a lost cause.

Though there has traditionally been a lost and found during the block party, items lost at the block party usually tend to stay that way.

Little known factoid: After the block party, the city releases a convoy of vacuum trucks onto Uptown. All the forgotten IDs, discarded cell phones and other (maybe elicit?) objects fall prey to the beasts.

“It’s worth staying up and watching it,” Wiehl said. “If I remember correctly, they usually push all the debris from the sidewalk into the street. And then, the vac. truck comes through and goes by.”

For those of you who still have hope to find the practically new iPhone with all of your pics from the celebration, there will be a lost and found running throughout the night.

“The Athens City Police Station will serve as a centralized lost and found location throughout Halloween Weekend,” Pittman said in an email.



Wear a costume; have fun.

Though I would like to enter some witty comment here, I think the mayor says it best:

“It’s much more fun wearing a costume. Wear something that’s comfortable and appropriate,” Wiehl said. “When I say appropriate, if it’s 30 degrees out there and I don’t have the physique to dress up as the green Hulk to step out in a loincloth and expect not to freeze.”

Smart costumes should even extend to shoes, Wiehl added.

“The horses are leaving things behind, too,” he said.




Many of my dad’s friends went to OU, and my dad recounts his Halloweens at OU as some of his favorite memories. Halloween can be a blast, if you do it right and remember a few tips: Gauge your drinking; know your rights; remember your manners with the horses; and plan ahead.

Have fun, Bobcats, and watch where you’re walking.



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