The show's over.
Madison's four-year streak of ending the annual downtown Halloween revelry with pepper spray and riot gear has ended, as crowds dispersed in the early morning hours of Sunday, Oct. 29. Police estimate that the crowd reached about 30,000 at its peak, a huge drop from recent years. They also report a total of 143 arrests, nearly two hundred less than in 2005. In all, city agencies and leadership consider the event broad success.
The Daily Page is collaborating with The Daily Cardinal to provide continuous live coverage about the State Street parties, along with comments from elected officials, city staff, police spokespersons, and other participants and observers in the 2006 edition of Halloween in Madison.
Live blogging of Saturday's Halloween happenings follows below.
2:40 a.m.: Downtown alder and long-time Halloween supporter Mike Verveer gets the final word: "I'm exceedingly pleasantly surprised. I'm in the command post now and they're packing up and going home. The only police left on State are those patrol cars avoiding the street sweepers. Half of State Street is clean and it's only bartime now. I'm very pleasantly surprised. In terms of the future, I think tonight's events means that the 30 year tradition will be continuing. I think the more extreme strategies that have been talked about in prior years following problematic Halloweens won't come into play next year. The only complaints I heard tonight were from some business outside the gates where no ingress or egress was allowed, such as the Angelic, the Blue Velvet and Amy's Café, so their business was less than it could have been. Meanwhile, bars within the gated area had lines outside them all night long. There were also a couple of people that complained about the $5, one a State Street resident who was not happy he had to fill out a form for tickets to be in his own home. The fact that it's only bar time and the event is over is unbelievable. Bottom line, I'm obviously very pleased, and obviously ecstatic it did not have to end for a fifth year in a row with pepper spray. It's a tremendous victory."
2:30 a.m.: Mike Hanson has published the final Madison police press release regarding Hallowee 2006. It reads: "As of 2:00 a.m. there were 143 arrests as a result of the Halloween event on State St as compared to 334 arrests in 2005. The two day total for arrests in 2006 were 230 as compared to 566 in 2005. One of Saturday's arrests was a felony for battery to a police officer. It is estimated that at the height of the event there were approximately 35,000 people on State St. The earliest that anyone from the Madison Police Department will be available for comment on the Halloween Event will be on Monday, 10/30/06. Chief Noble Wray commends the officers, detectives, investigators, civilians and commanders who worked this event as it was a successful two-day event."
2:26 a.m.: J335 recently published a report about the costumes seen on State Street over Saturday night. It includes awards for Best Group Costume, Best Political Costume, and Most Madison Costume among several others.
2:22 a.m.: A three-minute long video published some minutes ago provides a good look at the crowds as gathered at the 500 and 600 blocks of State Street. "This is what we call Halloween in Madison!!," wrote the videographer.
2:21 a.m.: MPD PIO Mike Hanson says, "the police department feels confident that the plan was executed well in collaboration with other city agencies." He will be releasing a final report shortly.
2:17 a.m.: "It's over," says Chris Guess. "It will be more crowded at 9 a.m. this morning than it is now."
2:10 a.m.: Mayor Dave Cieslewicz comments at the close of another Halloween weekend in Madison: "I think it was a great success. We met all three of the goals I had for the event. We didn't have to use pepper spray or riot gear, we reduced the amount of the overconsumption of alcohol, and we've recovered a significant portion of the costs. I couldn't be happier. I think the bottom line is that we've started to rebuild public support for this event."
2:08 a.m.: "It looks like the crowd has pretty much cleared out and all is quiet," concludes George Twigg.
2:06 a.m.: CRASH Madison sends its final text broadcast of the event. It reads: "Thnx 4 CRASHing Madison! Get home safely, don't 4get 2 check crashmadison.com in a few days 4 pix & videos! G'night!"
2:04 a.m.: An individual monitoring a police scanner notes that the barricades are coming down, the streets are being reopened, and the police consider the event over.
2:02 a.m.: "It's deader than even a Thursday night," says Phil Ejercito "In the time it took to get nachos from an absolutely filthy Taco Bell, the crowd has dispersed," he says. Ejercito also discusses giving an interview during which police hung around him, his friend and a reporter, and were subsequently followed by another for half a block before they reached an intersection. "It was creepy because the police were literally looking over your shoulder when you were trying to give your honest opinion to a reporter," he says.
1:56 a.m. (Standard): Mike Verveer thinks things are dead. "I'm standing in front of The Pub and there's nobody here except media and cops," he says. "I'm shocked that the street is cleared this early in the night. It's cops and a huge group of media from all over the state, and that's it, yet there's still ten minutes until bar time." Verveer says police cleared the street and sidewalks by going up to every person individually and asking them to move along. "I'm standing at ground zero where the problems have been every year, and there's only a half dozen people watching from Concrete Park aside from us." As he continues to speak with the media gathered at the scene, Verveer shouts to an officer, "Happy Halloween! I can't believe it's over."
1:54 a.m. (Standard): Via CRASH Madison: "Vehicle traffic on Gorham and Johnson now reopened."
1:47 a.m. (Standard): Via CRASH Madison: "Police clearing sidewalks now."
1:43 a.m. (Standard): Ben Broeren is viewing the street from a second story window on the 300 block. "They've got the cleaners out, and people are casually strolling down the street," he says.
1:36 a.m. (Standard): "It's calm, cops are just clearing out the last stragglers," reports Chris Guess. "The bars aren't empty yet, but they will be in 20 minutes or so. All that's left are stragglers."
1:30 a.m. (Standard): "I'm just about to wrap up," says Laura Whitmore at the emergency operations center. She gives a final count of 34,300 tickets, of which 2,300 were the complimentary ones for State Street residents and businesses. "We were very impressed with how quickly people did leave once it ended, with the exception of that one stubborn crowd," she says. "For the most part, it went very well."
1:24 a.m. (Standard): Ald. Mike Verveer is observing the scene from the intersection of State and Gilman, which he says has cleared out considerably. He can see a crowd gathered in the 500 block, though, along with mounted police in the street and numerous officers on foot. Overall, he thinks things are going fairly well. Verveer says MPD Lt. Carl Gloede (second in command of the central district) told him that things have gone "beautifully" from a district-wide perspective, including all police, fire, and rescue calls. The bars are packed, meanwhile, as they should remain open for another half-hour or so. Verveer says he's headed towards the 500 block to view the scene in that direction.
1:17 a.m. (Standard): "People are just hanging out, looking around, same as before," says Phil Ejercito. "I don't perceive any threat to personal safety or property, but there sure are a hell of a lot of police out here right now." Situated in the crowd in the middle of the 500 block, he counts 23 officers observing from one location, and four mounted police in the middle of the street."
1:12 a.m. (Standard): "People seem to be mellowing out a bit," says Ben Broeren, who is observing from the intersection of State and Gilman. Rigth around the time Daylight Savings Time ended, he says, "people were chanting and it was pretty wild." On State between a poster shop and Pel'meni, Broeren notes, "there were three or four horses spooked out of their minds" by the chanting. Shortly thereafter, though, police on foot started pushing the crowd back. "Now it's calmed down," he says, "and people are getting out of here."
1:09 a.m. (Standard): Continuing to observe traffic from the southeast corner of the UW campus, Mike Fay reports that things are quieting down and pedestrians are walking away from State Street.
1:07 a.m. (Standard): Chris Guess remains in the center of the 500 block amidst one of the crowds. "It's weird, they're enjoying the cops being here in a good way," he says, "but they're still rioting."
1:04 a.m. (Standard): Via CRASH Madison: " New fence going up on State and Gilman."
1:02 a.m. (Standard): Mayoral spokesperson George Twigg is observing the action via suveillance cameras at the city's emergency operations center. He says "it looks like there's a couple of smallish groups," namely the one at the 500 block and the other at the State and Gilman intersetion. "We were just looking at some video from last year at the exact same block and its a much smaller group this year," he says. "There's a couple of knots of people dancing and hanging out, but it seems essentially smaller than in previous years. The horses are passing back and forth through them, but it's nothing too serious at the moment." Twigg also notes that the rest of State Street is more or less cleared of people
1:59 a.m.: "The horses have gone through three times," says Chris Guess, and the singing, dancing, moshing and general rowdiness continues at both crowd locations.
1:56 a.m.: Jesse Russell is observing the action from near the intersection of Gilman and State streets, where he was nearly hit in the head by tall boy of Icehouse that somebody tossed. He reports two crowds of revelers: one at the intersection and the other in the middle of the 500 block between the Qdoba and Jimmy John's outlets. "There's a lot of chanting, the "Eat Shit, Fuck You," one, the "Ole! Ole!" one," he says, "now they're chanting "USA!" He also points out the mounted police are now more agressively trying to disperse the crowds.
1:51 a.m.: Things are quiet as well at the intersection of State and Frances streets. "It's pretty dead, actually," says Dave Black from the second story studios of WSUM. "It never got the critical mass we've had in past years. Things are pretty much cleared," with a mere ten or so people at the intersection. Black can see more people in the 500 block (where a small crowd has formed), but things remain quiet at that other traditional flashpoint for trouble near Frances.
1:47 a.m.: Things are much calmer at the intersection of State and Gorham, reports Ashok Kumar from his view behind the stage. "The cops have cleared out everything, and the loudspeakers played the "Please leave" message." At this point, he can see a few people crossing the intersection, but now large crowds. The stage, meanwhile, is currently being packed up for the night.
1:43 a.m.:Phil Ejercito is standing on State Street amidst the crowd that's formed in the center of the 500 block. "Same old shit as last year," he says. "At this point it's a question of how the police will react to it. If the police are smart, they'l let it be. This is a lot like what happened last year when they unnecessarily cleared it up. There's no good reason for any action to be taken." Ejercito also notes that police are confiscating filters from gas masks that a few revelers are carrying, and the police loudspeaker system is now playing a pre-recorded message asking the crowd to go home.
1:40 a.m.: "I'm in the center of a hurricane," reports Ben Broeren, standing at the corner of Gilman and State streets. "There's people jumping all around, the horses are spooked, and the cops are pissed. I'm trying to stay on my feet."
1:37 a.m.: Chris Guess reports that the gates are closed and a very large crowd is growing in the 500 block of State Street, right in front of Qdoba. As more police emerge to clear the streets, the crowd is beginning to chant, the most prevalent thus far being the "Eat Shit, Fuck You," dialogue seen at every Badger home football game.
1:29 a.m.: The music is over at both Freakfest stages, and Tom Wangard is driving home. "There's a huge and steady stream of people leaving the event," he says. "The shows were great. It seemed like it still wasn't the main focus for people this year, but there were a lot of people up at the stages enjoying the music, and not a lot of negativity about the bands or the $5." Wangard also noticed "a long line of cops coming out of their staging area in front of BW3" (by the University Inn), getting ready to clear the streets. "At this point," Wangard concludes, "it was successful, pending how things end up."
1:28 a.m.: Via CRASH Madison: "All access into State Street being sealed now."
1:26 a.m.: Mark Sadowski published a photo gallery featuring snaps from earlier in the evening. "Tens of thousands of costumed party goers wander aimlessly up the street while hundreds of cars are backed up as far as the eye can see waiting to weave around on the painful reroute," he wrote.
1:23 a.m.: Paul Skidmore is at the intersection of State and Gorham, along with a platoon of MPD officers who are getting ready to close the street. "What they're going to be doing is at 1:30 a.m. they will start to move the plastic barrels on State, allow people to leave and not allow them to return," he says. "Over the next half-hour to 45 minutes, the process of clearing the streets is going to be pretty well under way/"
1:19 a.m.: The official MPD report has been updated once again by spokesperson Mike Hanson. It reads: "109 arrests have been processed as compared to approximately 250 at this same time last year. The crowd continues to grow as it is estimated to be over 30,000 . Detox is filled. Officers note a continued increase in the alcohol levels observed in State St. One officer suffered a broken wrist and was treat at the hospital and released. The injury occurred as the officer was chasing a suspect in a battery case near Spring St and tripped on the ground."
1:16 a.m.: Walking west from the Capitol stage, Phil Ejercito notes that a large portion of the crowd is walking with him. "Everybody's all headed in the same direction," he says, towards the late night trouble spots seen in years past.
1:12 a.m.: Observing the action from the emergency operations center, George Twigg says things are still looking pretty good. "The next couple of hours are crucial, obviously, as this is when we've had problems in the past," he notes. He and others at the center have been coordinating with the staff at the ticket trailers to make sure that they're clear in communicating to people when the gates close, particularly they're closing time of 1:30 a.m. After 1:30 a.m., people will no longer be allowed to enter the party area. "There won't be any entrance to State Street after the first 1:30 a.m," he says, though the bars will be remaining open for another 90 minutes or so.
1:06 a.m.: J335 is reporting that Halloween alternative events at the UW's Union South have "fallen flat."
1:04 a.m.: Want some State Street surrealism? Watch when "a big blue baby bunny joins a bagpiper on State Street," in this video shot by Jesse Russell.
12:58 a.m.: "The crowd is really, really easy going," says Chris Guess. "It's definitely getting bigger, and I'd say the 400 and 500 blocks of State Street are pretty packed," he continues, "but there's no real ruckus." Well, there are disturbances eddying around a Girls Gone Wild team moving through the street, but the police are breaking them up every 100 yards or so, Guess notes, while the mounted police are moving up and down the street more frequently. "The level of intoxication just isn't as high as I expected it," he says.
12:51 a.m.: Mike Verveer is hanging out at Paul's Club, having gone there after spending some time at the police command post in the fire department headquarters on Johnson Street. "When I was there," he says, "Capt. Mary Schauf reported to me that the worst she's seen was people throwing things out of the windows of The Towers." He also spoke with MPD Capt. Richard Bach, who likewise says there are no problems thus far.
12:42 a.m.: The estimated crowd size is just over 30,000, says MPD spokesperson Mike Hanson, with about 70 arrests so far in the evening. "The crowd demeanor seems a lot better so far than in year's past," he says. "We haven't seen large fights and chanting yet," he continues, "and we hope the bands had a lot to do with that."
12:36 a.m.: Ticketing coordinator Laura Whitmore reports that as of midnight, the city has sold a total of 31,075 tickets. She notes that all four sales locations have been fairly busy, though the one in Library Mall has been outpacing the others at about 1000 tickets per hour. All ticket sales will end in about 25 minutes, Whitmore points out, as the trailers are scheduled to shut down at 1 a.m., a half-hour before the gates to State Street close for the night.
12:28 a.m.: After walking around State Street and adjacent areas, Mayor Cieslewicz returned to his command post around 11:45 p.m., reports The Daily Cardinal campus editor Erica Pelzek. She spent a few hours this evening accompanying the mayor on his rounds, and shares similar impressions of the party as others have been reporting so far. "For the most part, it really seems quite tame," Pelzek says, with the biggest bottleneck in the 500 block of State in front of the Qdoba burrito eatery. "People don't seem to be as drunk as in years past," she continues. "People are very festive, and it's looks less violent than in years past."
12:19 a.m.: This was the first Halloween on State Street for Isthmus contributor Emily Denaro. She says the event was crowded, particularly on the blocks nearest the UW, but one could still walk around. She identifies a few of the costumes that both stood out or were ubiquitous, including improv costumes (such as referees refereeing), naughty costumes, guys in drag, group costumes (such as three person team as a dog and two fire hydrants), tons of Waldos, Smurfs, Nickelodeon Double Dare costumes, a MySpace profile, and much, much more. Denaro also reports that there were smaller crowds at the stages, long lines at bars, and many people taking photos of one another. "You could walk very freely," she says, "and apparently this is a new thing."
12:14 a.m.: Continuing to observe pedestrian and vehicle traffic near the intersection of Park and Dayton streets, Mike Fay reports lots of noise and cross-traffic in the area, with some persons heading away from as well as towards State Street.
12:07 a.m.: Before heading home, Robbie Webber reports on the status of the party, and adds a second voice tonight approving the location of the stages. "The thing I was thinking is a lot more spread out, and is not concentrated at the bottom of State Street," she says. "The fact that they had a stage next to Uno's and at the top of State really helped out. I think it dispersed the crowd more." Webber also says she spoke briefly with Susan Schmitz, the president of Downtown Madison Inc, who "seemed really enthusiastic about the way things are going," particularly the location of the stages.
11:59 p.m.: "It's pretty mellow," says Ben Broeren. Aside from a situation where he witnessed quite a few sheriff's deputies arrest a man who smuggled in a bottle of booze, the situation is for the most part relaxed.
11:56 p.m.: "The police seem slightly more intense then last night, although much more laid back then last year when it comes to confiscating toy weapons," writes Jesse Russell in a report on the situation just before midnight. "While the guns seem to be getting tossed, numerous individulas with toy swords have passed the police with no intervention," he notes. Russell found that the crowds on State were large yet dispersed, and noted that the Capitol stage helped draw more of the crowd away from the usually-more crowded 500 and 600 blocks of the street. He also traversed Langdon and Mifflin streets, as well, noting that the former is very quiet and the latter features numerous house parties.
11:53 p.m.: Rather than performing on State Street tonight as he usually does, Art Paul Schlosser is attending CD release party at The Klinic, the album made in tribute to him and his tunes. "It's crazy," exclaims a bartender at the Park Street club. "Come on down."
11:50 p.m.: CRASH Madison sends its latest update: "Mighty Short Bus starting at midnight, Capitol Stage."
11:49 p.m.: Dave Black enjoys another second-story view of State Street from the studios of WSUM. He says the crowd looks pretty normal, the way "it usually does this time of night" in Halloween parties past. "They're making some noise and having a good time, but that's the way it always is. The trouble never really starts until after 1:00 a.m. Prior to that it's usually well-behaved, and that's they way it looks now."
11:41 p.m.: With a backstage view down uponon Gorham Street, Ashok Kumar reports that State Street is pretty full and the band (Paper Tiger) is drawing a good-sized crowd. "They all seem pretty excited about it," he says, "people are jumping around, having a good time. Maybe this will end up working."
11:36 p.m.: MPD PIO Mike Hanson published an updated report regarding arrest counts. It reads: "29 arrests have been processed with a few still to be processed. The crowd is estimated to be around 30,000. No major issues in the surrounding neighborhoods. Over 250 officers are working in the State St. area and approximately 100 are elsewhere: arrest processing, party-patrol, arrest transport and other operational needs."
11:33 p.m.: Isthmus contributor Ben Broeren says he "found something interesting." He reports an incident in which six men from Illinois (whose football team lost by 14 points at Camp Randall today) encountered the entrance at Lake Street. "They didn't know they had to pay $5," Broeren syas. "They were incredulous, and one of them just went through. He just kept on walking." Though the security guard tried to check his hand, Broeren reports, the Illini fan simply waved flashed his palm in response and continued up State Street.
11:28 p.m.: Freakfest promoter John Kunz says the production is "absolutely wonderful," singling out The Crest as having "really kicked some butt." Kunz says the local hip-hop standouts "had the crowd in the palm of their hands." The final sets are starting fairly soon, with the music expected to end at about 1:15 a.m. At that point, he and his staff will start breaking down the stages and PA equipment. "We'll be out of there in an hour and a half later," Kunz says.
11:17 p.m.: At the other end of the party at the intersection of State and Lake, neigborhing alder Robbie Webber says the crowds are big but not too big. "It's pretty crowded, but there's still plenty of space to walk around," she notes. "Last year at this time and at this location, it was really packed and it was difficult to walk around." Additionally, quite a few people are passing through the gates in order to get something to eat at the food carts set up on Library Mall. Webber also notes that the mayor and his entourage of reporters just passed by, having made their way down from the briefing at the City-County Building.
11:08 p.m.: Downtown alder Mike Verveer is standing at the corner of Johnson and State streets, and is accompanied by a UW student participating in the J335 project. He's also busy greeting many friends and well-wishers passing by. As for the scene, "it's pretty packed" and comparable to last year. As for costumes? "There's everything under the sun here," says Verveer when asked to pick a favorite.
11:02 p.m.: After walking a circuit around Langdon Street and the lower two blocks of State, Phil Ejercito has a few observations. One, "Langdon looks like normal weekend traffic, though obviously with naughtier people running around," he says. "It was interesting seeing private security standing at the entrances of fraternities and sororities." Two, the line at the Gilman Street entrance was moving fairly quickly, the security guards there weren't doing any hand-searches of patdowns. Three, the hand stamps for reentrance are poor in quality. "They give you a little red hand stamp that might say "Pass," but it rubbed off in about five minutes. Now there's a little red blob on my hands. I'm curious to see how they handle reentry."
10:56 p.m.: Chris Guess says State Street "is as full now as it was at 12:30 to 1:00 a.m. last night." He notes that the crowd is fairly calm, and the police presence remains intense, even more so than on Friday. "They're definitely not as friendly," Guess says. He witnessed eight officers raid an apartment in which someone was throwing bottles onto the street. Meanwhile, the lines to get in to State Street have "significantly diminished." Guess thinks that the wait was about half an hour long at the State Street entrance some time ago, but has since diminished to about a minute. "If you go farther up State Street," he continues, "the lines are down to nothing." The lines for bars, howevers, "are twice as long as they were last night," he notes. "The line for Brats stretched all the way past Frances Street."
10:54 p.m.: Observing south campus traffic from a perch above Park Street, Mike Fay reports increasing numbers of people heading towards State Street.
10:52 p.m.: I recently returned from a media tour and briefing that was given at the city's arrest processing center, located in the parking garage underneath the City-County Building. About 15 members of mostly broadcast media were present, along with Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, his spokesperson George Twigg, and police spokesperson Mike Hanson. The center is best briefly described as an assembly line for arrested persons, a series of stations in which they are identified, photographed, charged, and possibly ticketed, complete with a credit card scanner for those persons looking to immediately dispense with their tickets. The process takes anywhere between 30 and 90 minutes, depending upon the number of arrested persons in the line, and not everybody is sent upstairs to jail. After this short briefing, the mayor started to return to State Street, accompanied a few reporters who are doing walk-along coverage with him.
10:35 p.m.: Via CRASH Madison: "I Voted for Kodos, 10:45 @Cap. Stg; Paper Tiger, 11 @Gorham Stg."
10:16 p.m.: Isthmus sports columnist Jason Joyce reports on the TV news coverage of the State Street Halloween festivities. One network had two reporters on the scene, with the other two using only one apiece, he notes. Following brief coverage, the broadcasts move on to highlights from the Badger football game. "In other words, there's not much to report yet," Joyce notes. "All of the coverage is pretty cliche ("Band will perform rock, rap and funk.... just to name a few")."
10:04 p.m.: "Things are starting to fill up" at the King Club, says its co-owner Tristan Gallagher. The King Street music venue is hosting a Halloween Spooktacular tonight, featuring bands from throughout the Midwest and headlined by Madison's own Screamin' Cyn Cyn & The Pons. About 50% of the crowd there are in costumes, Gallagher says, though not very many good ones yet except for the staff. "This includes the usual; devils, devil whores, sluts, vampires, all the boys are in drag," he says, with the exception of a "pretty good" caveman.
9:55 p.m.: A bagpipe and drum act in front of the Yellow Jersey Bicycle shop is starting to attract quite a crowd, says Robbie Webber. She says that the crowd is starting to get "a little fuller," through she's not yet feeling crowded while sitting on a sidewalk bench near the corner of State and Gilman streets. Webber also witnessed her first arrest of the evening, which she thinks was likely for breaking the glass ban. She also notes that the mounted police are continuing to trot up and down State, and of course "are leaving behind their presents."
9:49 p.m.: Kimbra Christianson at the High Noon says the bar is getting busy, with many costumes in evidence. "There's a Captain Spaulding from House of 1000 Corpses, and a guy dressed with the Alien creature bursting from his chest," she says. "Lots of gory, bloody, and very creative costumes."
9:46 p.m.: MPD PIO Mike Hanson says the department currently reports four arrests and zero transports to detox. They currently do not have a crowd size estimate, meanwhile, though more details should be released as the night lengthens.
9:42 p.m.: Observing from his perch overlooking the Buckeye lot on Gorham, Ashok Kumar notes the growing size of the party. "The whole street is pretty much filled," he says, with many watching the concert.
9:35 p.m.: Observing the revelry from the WSUM studios overlooking State Street, Dave Black says the scene is "actually pretty typical in my experience on Halloween," with a "steady stream" of people walking up and down the street. Black also says that the crowd size is comparable to years' past, a sign that the crowd certainly isn't done growing yet."
9:29 p.m.: "It's kind of noisy down here," says far west side Madison Ald. Paul Skidmore, who is observing the action on the 200 block of State Street along with about half a dozen MPD officers. He notes that the music is going strong on both stages, and that the size and enthusiasm of the crowd is "really starting to pick up now." Skidmore has also observed the mounted police, which he says were first deployed around 8:30 p.m. In addition to personnel from the Madison department, Skidmore identifies the participation of polie from the Dane Co. Sheriff's Office, the Wisconsin State Patrol, and the UW, Capitol, Middleton and Fitchburg departments.
9:23 p.m.: Ticketing coordinator Laura Whitmore has the latest sales numbers for Freakfest. As of 9 p.m., 22, 226 tickets had been sold, with 1,463 of these selling in the last hour. Does she think these sales numbers are low? "No, not at all," Whitmore says. She points to increasing numbers of sales at the booth on the intersection of Gilman and Henry, and expects numbers to continue climbing as the night lengthens.
9:20 p.m.: Via CRASH Madison: "The Crest, 9:30 @Cap. Stg; Plunket, 10 @Gorham Stg."
9:10 p.m.: Brandon Sivret is pleased with the night thus far. "Right now it looks like everything is going the way we expected it," he says, with "a pretty good crowd out there right now."
9:03 p.m.: After walking the length of State Street, Robbie Webber reports that things are relatively quiet. "There's no line or only a couple of people in line at the ticket booth, and there's not that much of a wait to get in at Lake and State." In fact, the longest line she saw was at the entrance of State Street Brats. As for the costumes, Webber identified a few favorites, including a Borat and two women holding an "I'm with stupid" sign next to a sign-wielding evangelist.
8:57 p.m.: MPD PIO Mike Hanson is preparing for the first big briefings of the night. "We do our briefing at 9:30 p.m., where we will have a lot more information about crowd size, arrests, stuff like that." Following this, he will doing live TV news appearances at 10:00 p.m. before a media tour of the arrest processing facility at the City-County Building on the Lake Monona side of Capitol Square.
8:50 p.m.: UW student and conservative blogger Mike Fay comments on this weekend's Halloween activities as experienced from his perch in the new Smith Hall student dorm on Park Street. He writes, "I expect the Halloween to be a flop this year," before blamming all of the trouble on "young liberals."
8:42 p.m.: Near west side Madison Ald. Robbie Webber just arrived at the party in costume as a yoghurt-covered blueberry, entering at Carroll Street near the Capitol stage. "The music is pretty good, they've got some steel drum going on there," she says. "The lines were not all that long to get in, there was no problem buying tickets, and plenty of space, with fewer people than at Jazz at 5." She says nearly everybody is in costume, with a generally good mood reigning. She's also amused by the sight of evangelists working the crowd out of their officers in the former home of the State Street Arcade.
8:29 p.m.: At least one person travelling to Madison for Halloween yet not intending to go Freakfest on State Street is writing about it. Her comments: "They want to charge people to walk on a street this year. I am not paying no $5 unless they're handing me a cup and I can fill it up with something to get me good and drunk. I can't see how anyone would agree to that bullshit."
8:26 p.m.: Via CRASH Madison: "DJ Jeremy Thomas @Cap. Stg canceled; Butt Funnel, 9 @Gorham Stg."
8:20 p.m.: Ashok Kumar continues to watch the action on State Street from his vantage point in the King House, a historical building that was moved to a location adjacent to the Buckeye lot at the beginning of the decade. This building is split in two by the fences, with half of it inside and half outside. "I can get in through the front door, but not through my back door," Kumar says. "I'm looking out the window right now," he continues, "and there's barely any people on State Street." Kumar says the crowd in front of the Gorham stage is very light, with police still comprising the bulk of the crowd at that location.
8:13 p.m.: People are starting to filter into the High Noon Saloon for its Halloween Spooktacular tribute band extravaganza, says bartender Kimbra Christianson. She says about half of their patrons are currently in costume, and that she anticipates a "crazy" show.
8:06 p.m.: Halloween Action Committee organizer Tom Wangard is standing in front of the Gorham street stage, where the band Smile Thru This just started playing to a gathering crowd. "State Street is starting to feel good, calm like last night," he says. "There are a ton of cops out here right now, but there are no problems."
8:02 p.m.: Joel Plant is watching the scene from Peace Park on the 400 block of State Street. He says music at the Gorham street stage just started, with a "pretty steady stream of people in costumes headed up toward s the Capitol." The crowds remain light, though. Plant says he be circulating around State Street and the two city command centers through the evening, keeping tabs on the event as it progresses.
7:54 p.m.: Via CRASH Madison: "Smile Thru This starting at 8, Gorham Stage."
7:51 p.m.: Madison police public information officer Mike Hanson is back in action tonight. He reports that the streets remain "wide open" with "nothing major going on." Does he think the cold and windy conditions will affect the turnout tonight? "It was cold last night, and there were still people scantily clad out there," he says. "People will still show, as alcohol is a powerful thing."
7:45 p.m.: The music is underway at the Capitol stage, and is set to get started at the Gorham stage around 8 p.m. One of the bands performing tonight is I Voted for Kodos, a Wisconsin-based pop/ska band. Guitarist Lee Gordon published a MySpace message to fans this morning announcing their gig. It reads: "Come see IV4K play America's biggest Halloween party tonight in Madison, WI on State Street. We're playing at 11pm at the Capitol Square Stage. There are only 80,000 tickets available, so come early!"
7:40 p.m.: Dave Black is the general manager of WSUM, the UW-Madison student radio station with studios overlooking the interesection of State and Frances streets, a regular flashpoint for trouble every year. He'll be at the studios through the night, "just in case any kind of incidents occur," he says. "We're right here at the central point of Frances and State, and I just want to make sure our property and interests are protected." Black also says the crowds are "fun to watch."
7:32 p.m.: With Freakfest now underway, mayoral spokesperson George Twigg says he's on his way to the emergency operations center to watch the event via surveillance cameras. He als reports that Mayor Cieslewicz will arrive at the event around 9 p.m., and walk around State Street and adjacent areas to observe the action.
7:30 p.m.: Via CRASH Madison: "Tickets now required to access or cross State Street."
7:28 p.m.: Dane County Supv. Ashok Kumar is watching the action from a window overlooking the Buckeye parking lot. He reports that the set-up has been going on for a long time, and that he's not enamoured with the music currently being played in a soundcheck. "People are just walking around and there are a lot of cops around the stage," he says, just as the admissions system is set to begin.
7:21 p.m.: Jesse Russell at Dane101 reports the following from local police scanners: "The riot police are staged somewhere in the area and divided into units which are then assigned to deploy on command at specific locations of State Street. Because last night was a relatively quiet night, the calls for the units in "hard gear" to stand down started coming in one-by-one around 12:20 am. That's a good sign."
7:18 p.m.: CRASH Madison sends its third message: "Delta Nove starting at 7:30, Capitol Stage."
7:16 p.m.: Time for another look at Friday night, just before the show really kicks off at 7:30 p.m. In reflections on last night's actions at Dane101, Jesse Russell discusses his observations of the action on State Street, that which ultimately gives him "high hopes for this evening."
7:12 p.m.: City alcohol policy coordinator and Halloween organizer Joel Plant is at the intersection of State and Lake streets, watching the police set up the fencing and gates. While he says most of the pedestrians walking around are in costume (or at least partially in costume), things remain pretty quiet. "It's certainly not any busier than a normal Saturday night just after 7 p.m," he says.
7:04 p.m.: Taking a brief moment to examine the action on Friday night, it's worth taking a look at three articles published by J335. One reports on the law enforcement aspect of the night, while another examines the scene through the eyes of some revelers. The third, though, is the most noteworthy. Purporting to report on the "internet buzz" surrounding the event, the article does not provide links nor report context in its look at user-generated media about the event. For a project that's attempting to provide timely online coverage of this event, it needs to be more integrated with its chosen medium.
6:59 p.m.: City of Madison parks department coordinator Laura Whitmore reports that as of 6:00 p.m., some 18,700 tickets to Freakfest had been sold. She's currently busy working with determining the locations of ticket sales trailers. There is now one located at the intersection of Gilman and Henry streets, and another located at the intersection of Gorham and Broom streets. A mobile unit currently in Library Mall, meanwhile, will remain on call depending upon crowd size. Should it get heavy in that location by the UW, it will stay put; if crowds pick up at the other end of State Street, it will move to the intersection of Carroll Street and West Washington Avenue.
6:56 p.m.: CRASH Madison sends its second message this evening. It reads: "Downtown vehicle traffic now being rerouted."
6:50 p.m.: CRASH Madison organizer Phil Ejercito has been walking a circuit around the lower half of State Street, and says "it looks like they have everything ready to go." He says the fences and entrances in the gates are up, the latter consisting of small open tents situated on the sidewalks and flanked by the orange mesh fencing. Meanwhile, there's no crowds forming so far at the ticket trailers in the UW Library Mall. Ejercito also confirms that the Gorham stage is up in the Buckeye parking lot with soundchecks underway, while traffic itself on Gorham is already being rerouted. This is an indication that the police traffic plan is already in place.
6:42 p.m.: Freakfest promoter John Kunz elaborates on the changes to the stage schedule tonight. With Mighty Short Bus taking over as headliners at the Capitol stage, every act on the Gorham stage will be pushed back one spot. Therefore, the music will start at the Capitol stage at 7:30 p.m. with Delta Nove, followed by an 8:00 p.m. kickoff at the Gorham stage with Smile Thru This. The full schedule is available in the Halloween Madison and Freakfest on State Street FAQ.
6:39 p.m.: There are three other articles in the J335 preview package that address the plans for tonight's Freakfest, in terms of both the city's plans for fencing and admissions to the project of rebranding of the party's identity. This consists of three looks at the city's plans for the event: here, here and here.
6:34 p.m.: Halloween Action Committee organizer Brandon Sivret says he's heading for State Street right now, and plans to work with collaborator Tom Wangard at the entertainment stages, helping with various tasks and speaking to the media. In face, "enjoying the night as much as I can," he says. Sivret also speculates that there will be plenty of people out on State Street tonight. "I think a lot of people are going to come out becasue they're curious to see what its going to be like tonight," he says. "They're going to end up checking it out, it's just a matter of when."
6:30 p.m.: What else is there to do away from State Street. Plenty, all around town. On the UW campus, meanwhile, there are alternative events planned for the soon to be moot Union South, as noted by J335.
6:26 p.m.: There are certainly going to be plenty of Madisonians interested in partying tonight yet planning on avoiding the crowds at Freakfest. One big party is the Halloween Spooktacular cover band party at the High Noon Saloon. As pointed out by Sunspot's Mike Huberty, the line-up includes his own Judas Priest tribute named Grinder, along with other tributes to The Misfits, Danzig, and Suicidal Tendencies.
6:23 p.m.: Following the look at last year's use of pepper spray on State Street, J335 published an article examining the effects of the chemical weapon, as felt through the eyes of one reveler.
6:20 p.m.: Interested in images of Friday night's party? Besides The Daily Page (see Your source on Madison Halloween 2006), there are a couple more good galleries of costumes and cops as seen on the first big night of partying. Jesse Russell at Dane101 published a gallery of 13 photos (including images of a gang of "V"s and Art Paul Schlosser), and Andrew Hoffman published 14 more pics (including looks at the South Park Satan and a flying spaghetti monster).
6:17 p.m.: CRASH Madison sends its first message of the night. It reads: "Welcome 2 the 2nd night of Halloween wknd! Weather: dry, lows in low-30s, winds 10mph."
6:14 p.m.: Freakfest promoter John Kunz reports that he's been working with his staff since 2:30 p.m. setting up the stages and other necessary equipment for tonight's concerts. "It's been absoultely phenomenal," he says. "I've got a little bit of background music going at the Gorham stage, and we're ready" for the 7:30 p.m. start time. There was one snag with the concer-planning, though. The headlining band Kunz was pursuing "fell through," so Mighty Short Bus will be taking that roll and playing the final set on the Capitol stage at midnight. "We tried, we tried, we tried," Kunz says. "We made a quick adjustment, though, and we're ready to roll."
6:09 p.m.: J335 is the UW School of Journalism class project that's attempting to provide comprehensive coverage of this year's Halloween events. Before things got under way this weekend, they published a package of preview stories looking at the event. A few were highlighted last night, and the rest will be early this event. A good place to start is a report about how the 2005 edition of the party ended with pepper spray.
6:02 p.m.: Mayor Cieslewicz's communications director George Twigg says the city is "sort of encouraged by last night," pointing to the halving of Friday night arrests when compared to 2005. As for today, he says the set-up for the gated event has been going smoothly so far. "The stages are up and they're doing soundchecks and logistically everything is falling into place. We'll just wait and see as the night unfolds here."
Tonight's the big night. The Saturday before Halloween. Freakfest on State Street. Riot gear and pepper spray four years running. What's going to happen this year? That's the question on everybody's minds, from city leadership down to every last costumed reveler on State Street.