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Wednesday, October 1, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 67.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
The Paper
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Freakfest 2006

Noble Wray, along with the mayor and dozens of other city and police officials, will spend the Saturday of Halloween weekend inside the University Inn. There they'll keep watch over an estimated 75,000 revelers, many of them drunk, via video feeds.

Police began using the hotel as a central command center when the 2002 Halloween festivities signed off with riots. Each year since, the festivities have ended badly, with police dispersing unruly mobs with pepper spray.

The city plans a larger role in this year's Halloween festivities, or "Freakfest." State Street will be cordoned off with orange snow fencing, and there'll be a $5 admission fee. The goal is to recover more of the city's $600,000 cost (already, it gets hundreds of thousands of dollars from citations) and keep things from getting out of hand.

In all, about 400 officers from various jurisdictions are expected to be working on Halloween weekend. Wray knows that, despite the best-laid plans, chaos could again ensue.

"I believe there is probably a core group of people who will engage in activity that will trigger" the need for pepper spray, says Wray. "But I hope there is some way to reach those folks, because this is something that's compromising the event for a lot of people....

"With 80% or 90% of the people attending the event, there's a good dialogue taking place."

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