Over the course of a mere hour or so on Friday afternoon, the din and hum of State Street changed appreciably. The preparations for the first big night of Halloween were coming together, with signs of this appearing everywhere. The lawn of the western quadrant of the State Capitol was fenced off, for starters. Then there were the portable toilets clustered in a couple locations along the road. The sidewalks were pretty busy, too, though nowhere near as crowded as the two main costume emporiums -- The Pipefitter and Ragstock -- which were bursting at the seams with shoppers.
The police presence was growing too. The stadium lights were being prepared in the big parking lot adjacent to the University Inn (and now long-established police command center). Clusters of a few officers were visible here and there, as were many more police vehicles, from the standard Madison cruiser to sleek black highway patrol rigs.
The most noticeable signal for the big party, though, were the speakers. Large speakers, clustered atop roofs in some half-dozen locations along the campus half of State Street. For a brief time on Friday afternoon, law enforcement assessed their decibels by playing a standard audio fidelity test CD. This was filled with banal statements that actually sounded quite jarring when coming from the banks of Big Brother's stereo system, which served as a symbol that another Madison Halloween had arrived.
Photos of State Street on an expectant Friday afternoon are available in the gallery at top right.