November 1, 2010 11:19 AM
For the fifth year in a row, we've had a quiet Halloween celebration on State Street. It's even coming to the point that the local TV stations aren't dragging out grainy old footage of cops in riot gear anymore. Now, that's progress.
Saturday night's Freakfest had good music, great costumes and little trouble. In fact, there were 44 arrests, compared to 578 in the worst year. City costs are down too as we can pull back on the number of police and things like special lighting.
Attendance this year was close to last year, so the city share of revenues should be about the same. This means that it's possible that we could come close to breaking even so that the event will have little or no cost to taxpayers. We'll know in a few weeks when police time sheets are tallied up.
A lot of people deserve credit for the turnaround, but this year I'd like to single out Assistant Chief Randy Gaber and Central District Captain Mary Schauf.
Randy has been at the center of all the minute-by-minute decisions on the night of the event for many years. His decisions, often under great pressure in the difficult years, helped keep the event safe. Mary has been one of the key players in making Freakfest successful since we started the event in 2006. She's spent countless hours working with downtown stakeholders, students and city staff to make this an event our entire community can be proud of.
Both Randy and Mary deserve a lot of credit for their great work on Halloween. Now they can both get some sleep.
And parenthetically, it was a great year also at the Cieslewicz household on Eton Ridge. We smashed the previous record of 126 trick-or-treaters with 164 last night. Unlike the city's experience however, this implies greater costs in materials for next year.