MPD Captain Mary Schauf, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, mayoral aide Mario Mendoza, city engineer Larry Nelson, and parks superintendent Jim Morgan evaluate the 2006 edition of Halloween in Madison.
City officials held a "Halloween 2006 debriefing" for about 20 downtown Business Improvement District members and other observers Wednesday afternoon at the Madison Central Library.
"As a rule we can be pretty proud of what we accomplished," Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said of the two-day party that drew at least 34,000 revelers to downtown Madison. No major disturbances broke out, and unlike past Halloweens police didn't have to resort to pepper spray, said the mayor.
"Actually, all of the objectives I had going into the '06 event were accomplished," Cieslewicz said. "What we'd like to do is go into '07 and make it even better if we can."
Judging by the comments made at the forum, it looks like the city will approach this year's edition of the party with its 2006 plan: fences, tickets, entertainment, tight scheduling, private security and a very visible police presence.
Overall, police reported making 244 arrests last Halloween, with a third of the collared coming from states other than Wisconsin.
The forum, featuring brief presentations from the police, engineering and parks departments, also allowed community members to offer their ideas for organizing the 2007 edition of the party, a mere three-quarters of a year away.
Here's what the city's departmental managers had to say.
City engineer Larry Nelson noted that the department's objective in providing easily movable fencing was to avoid injuries from partiers being squeezed against it. This goal achieved through the use of 500 orange barrels and 3,000 to 4,000 feet of plastic fencing.
"We were very confident going into the event that every agency knew where it was supposed to be," Nelson said. "It's our recommendations for future events that we basically deploy the same fence system."
"The city picked up four tons worth of garbage -- as opposed to eight tons in years past -- with the lower numbers attributed to the glass ban, streets superintendent Al Schumacher said. "By both days, we were clean and open by 7 o'clock in the morning," he noted.
"For a first time event where we had so many unknowns, we pulled this thing off pretty well," said city parks superintendent Jim Morgan.
He reported that 34,000 tickets were sold between Oct. 2 and Oct. 28. (Residents and merchants received complementary tickets.) Because most tickets were purchased in the final few days before the party, Morgan suggested that the city would shorten the sales period for the 2007 party.
He also said the city would consider providing more portable toilets, more ticket booths on campus, a different system of entrances and exits, and a more throughout vetting of any private security contractors.
"The crowd for the most part was pleasant to be with," Morgan concluded.
Madison Police Captain Mary Schauf noted that the biggest concern for the police initially was the management of traffic through the isthmus, particularly where Gorham and Johnson streets intersect with State.
"We knew we're going to end up with some traffic problems," she said.
Schauf said on Friday that arrests were down and that the fencing system was not completely utilized. It was Saturday, though, when it was used "to give a strong visual clue to people" to stay away from the lower blocks of State Street closer to the UW campus, where the late night trouble has developed in previous years.
"We did have some tense moments at the end of the night," she said, "and we were able to use other tactics to go in and get them to calm down."
The captain also said that displacement of partiers was not a serious issue, with neighborhoods reporting a calmer situation than in previous years. She also praised the police's mobile response teams dedicate to monitoring house parties, and said they should be activated for the 2007 event.
Schauf closed her report with an extensive listing of arrest details. For example, the 244 arrestees came from 17 different states; 65% from Wisconsin, 12% from Illinois, and 12% from Minnesota.
Additionally, 56% of the arrestees reported being a student at 49 different colleges or universities: 42% were from the UW-Madison, 12% from other UW System schools, 6% from MATC, and 3% from the University of Minnesota.
All told, 286 separate charges were issued.
'The vast majority of charges that we went with were city ordinances," Schauf said. Of these, 30% were for unlawful possession/consumption of alcohol, 27% for underage possession/consumption of alcohol, 14% for disorderly conduct, 6% for carrying fake IDs, 5% apiece for both "depositing human waste" and violating the glass-free zone, and a smattering of other charges things such as possession of THC, harassing a police animal, and possession of cocaine.
But Schauf pointed out that the 244 arrests were down significantly from the 468 arrests during the 2005 party.
Schauf also said the police monitored the alcohol level of arrestees, gauging their aggregate level of drunkenness. Of the 244 arrestees, 16 persons weren't tested, 11 had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .000, 53 were under the legal driving limit between .001 and .079 and the rest exceeded the limit, including one bustee at a staggering .322.
Mayoral aide Mario Mendoza addressed most of the questions after the mayor left for another meeting.
"Having what most people would agree is a successful event last year, perhaps there can now be some greater interest in putting this thing together," he said. "The gating system seems to have worked pretty well, some of the fears expressed about fencing fortunately did not materialize, and entertainment seems to have helped rebrand the event."
It was a "good first step" towards cost recovery, Mendoza remarked. No cost or revenue figures were reported by officials.
The biggest concern of business owners was the loss of revenue on Saturday night, particularly for restaurants along Gilman and Gorham streets. "This wasn't like a football weekend," said Mary Carbine, executive director of the Business Improvement District, despite the fact that the Badgers hosted Illinois at Camp Randall.
Downtown activist Rosemary Lee credited students for keeping the celebration under control. "I want to make sure that we include every student and every student organization," she said. "We just can't pat ourselves on the back." Mendoza agreed, saying the Halloween Action Committee was one of the most "pleasant surprises" of the event.
Many questions remain as planning gets underway for next October. One major issue remains unresolved: Is the city legally liable as a sponsor for organizing the event a second year in a row? City officials maintain that their role in organizing the celebration doesn't make it an official city event.
The next Halloween forum is planned for Feb. 13 on the UW campus, where the city will solicit comments from students.