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Former City of Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz

Former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's Blog

Boilermakers & Bad Vibes Shut Out

November 1, 2009 12:47 PM

Both the Purdue Boilermakers and Halloween bad vibes on State Street were shut out on Saturday, and I got a chance to witness both events. For the first time in a decade the Badgers beat a Big Ten opponent without allowing them to score, and for the fourth year in a row Freakfest came and went without incident.

For me it was a great fall day in our town. UW Chancellor Biddy Martin invited me to watch part of the game from the sidelines and then to jump around with her and the students during the third quarter tradition. That evening an even 100 kids showed up at my door for Halloween candy before I went downtown to walk State Street and sit in the Freakfest command center.

Freakfest owes its success to a lot of people. Joel Plant of my office and Chief Noble Wray have earned well-deserved praise for what they've done. But I'd like to mention two people who haven't gotten much attention for their contributions. The first is Assistant Police Chief Randy Gaber. Randy is the quarterback of Freakfest. While the rest of us kibitz from the sidelines, Randy makes all the tough calls about which gates to open and close when, which groups of police officers to move where, when and where to loosen up and when to shut things down. It's great to watch this guy and his team work. It's just a doggone symphony of crowd management.

The other person I'd like to note is Herb Frank. Herb and his sons run Frank Productions. In 2006, there weren't too many people outside of my own staff and I who thought gating and ticketing the unruly Halloween event would work. We pretty much cobbled together that first year by the seat of our pants, and we knew that couldn't be sustained. But the next year the Franks stepped forward to take it on. They brought professional event management and connections to dozens of popular bands to the table. Nobody knew if that first year was a fluke or a real success, and sponsorships and attendance were still uncertain. Sure, the Franks are doing this to make some money, but they took a risk at a time when we badly needed someone with their talents to step up, and I thank them for it.

So, both Purdue and the bad karma of Halloweens past limped out of town on Saturday night. Purdue will be back someday. Let's work to make sure those other scary spirits never return.


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