The first block of West Mifflin Street in downtown Madison was far busier than its final block a third of a mile away late Saturday morning.
While crowds teemed at the third Dane County Farmers' Market of the season, the 400 and 500 blocks of Mifflin woke slowly, revelers only gradually arriving to the annual end-of-semester spectacle and setting up shop on the stoops, porches, and decks of the student-saturated houses lining the street. By noon, though, the overcast skies were clearing and the party started swinging.
Given the date, more than a few persons attending the block party adopted a Cinco de Mayo theme, some revelers expressing this via a variety of T-shirts proclaiming the holiday and others sporting sombreros and other caricature costumery. Most at the party, though, were dressed simply (or in Badger red), with morning hoodies and jackets getting abandoned as temperatures started rising with the sun.
Then there were the persons attending the party looking to make a few dollars through the afternoon. Food vendors set up shop through the morning, their forms ranging from tenants setting up a simple grill to sell sandwiches or a cooler to sell water and soda to large trailer kitchens offering everything tasty (and healthy) from cheese curds to cheesesteaks.
Police were omnipresent throughout the morning and early afternoon, with arrests being made at a slow but steady clip, most of the revelers being led away in cuffs for bringing their beer out into the sidewalks and street. Most officers clustered in groups of two to twelve, with the occasional unmarked squad car, police motorcycle, and Dane County Sheriff's special events truck passing through the area. The four mounted officers planned to patrol the party (as training for this autumn's Halloween gathering) were being held in reserve for the larger crowds expected in the afternoon.
The old Mifflin Street Co-op, meanwhile, was shuttered and dark, its iconic mural silently gazing down upon the growing crowds. There were a handful of zombies, though, gathered near its front entrance, a promised infestation that provided one of the few out-of-ordinary sights at this would-be spectacle.
A photo gallery of early sights at the block party is available at right.