Smashed windows, drunkards sent to detox and cops resorting to pepper spray to break up boisterous crowds have marred past State Street Halloweens. Neighborhood leaders are spooked that conflict could spill over into nearby streets this year, despite efforts to more tightly regulate the celebration.
"It'll be a good test," Eugene Devitt, chair of the Mansion Hill district of Capitol Neighborhoods Inc., says of plans to fence off State Street. "But if people can't get in, other parties will spring up."
Mansion Hill and Langdon Street areas are likely spill-over sites. Residents are worried about costumed partiers breaking windows, scattering trash and peeing on their lawns.
"It's a great town, and we can get through this," say Fred Mohs, an executive board member of Capitol Neighborhoods Inc.
The traditional Halloween has been a fun-filled costume parade, says Mohs. Though there is a certain number of out of towners, he feels, who come here to combat authority.
'I'm hopeful the UW students will take control if they see trouble,' Mohs says. "This celebration can be wholesome, in some sense of the word."
Like Mayor Dave and the police, Mohs thinks food carts and music will help keep the party festive.
Meanwhile, the police are making contingency plans in the event that Halloween partiers head for Langdon and surrounding streets, says Madison police spokesperson, Carlos Valentin.
He says there is no plan to close off Langdon to traffic, so that emergency vehicles still have access.
"Certainly, some people are going to boycott State Street, and we have plans," Valentin says. "Though we'll concentrate the effort on State Street."
Devitt says that he's optimistic about the city's handling of Halloween.
"The city has always been very good about cleaning up the streets after the party's over."