Local first responders and other city officials are urging caution for anyone choosing to attend Saturday’s Mifflin Street Block Party.

Thousands of students from across Wisconsin are expected to gather along the 400 and 500 blocks of Mifflin Street to socialize.

“We want everyone who attends to be and feel safe. You need to know your police department cares tremendously about your community,” said Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes.

Around 200 officers are assigned to work the unsanctioned block party.

Members of the Special Events Team will be activated. These are officers who receive specific training that aids in managing large crowds and events.

You’ll see officers walking and cycling around the area. Attendees may also come across members of our Mounted Patrol Unit. An MPD drone will also patrol the skies, helping officers spot fights or assaults.

“A lot goes into our safety plans. We spend months planning, working with other city agencies,” said Barnes.

Months of Planning

City agencies, including the Madison Fire Department and the City of Madison Building Inspection, spent months preparing for Saturday.

The Madison Police Department works with officials at the University of Wisconsin-Madison ahead of the block party. Police will notify the school of any misconduct.

A community meeting was also held earlier this month to discuss the block party with students and landlords. Officers also went door-to-door sharing safety information with those who live along Mifflin Street.

In March, the city’s building inspection department found 27 property violations during an annual check of units. Staff were specifically searching for obvious defects that could be seen from a sidewalk, such as uneven steps and physical deterioration.

First responders will monitor overcrowding on porches and balconies.

Last year, three people were injured when a balcony collapsed along the 500 block of Mifflin Street. An inspection later found part of the balcony’s wooden structure was likely rotten.

“Many of these structures are nearing 100 years old,” said Building Inspection Director Matt Tucker. “The balconies may have been replaced over time, but when you have a lot of people crowded on a balcony that might all be jumping around and dancing to the same song, you’re creating a load that is not necessarily designed or intended to be supported by that structure.”

Glass bottles are prohibited in the area on Saturday. Common citations issued during the block party are for underage drinking and disorderly conduct.

The Madison Fire Department has ambulances nearby, staffed with three personnel each to help with medical emergencies.

The Mifflin Street Block Party began in 1969 as a street protest against the Vietnam War. Today it serves as a social function for students celebrating the end of the semester. It is not a University-sponsored event.

Busy Saturday
This year’s Mifflin Street Block Party occurs on the same day as the CrazyLegs Classic race and the Dane County Farmers’ Market.

“I think that’s one of the great things about Madison, we can do more than just one thing,” said Barnes.