Whether or not there will by any Halloween parties on Langdon Street next weekend, the group originally advocating the move is no more. Created only days after the city of Madison announced plans to establish fencing and ticketing on State Street this Halloween, the founders of the 'Move Halloween to Langdon 2006' Facebook group are shutting it down. 'We're not moving to Langdon,' says Brandon Sivret, 'We're going to get rid of [the group].' One reason? People still want to actually take Sivret up on his original idea and party on Langdon.
Over the last couple of days, those unhappy with the city's plans have been voicing their grievances on that Facebook group. More specifically, some of these criticisms were directed towards Sivret and Tom Wangard, the other primary face of the group. They were responsible for launching the Halloween Action Committee from the Facebook perch, and have since been helping solicit entertainment for the city-planned event they are helping to rebrand as 'Freakfest on State Street.'
'I think a lot of people are just complaining because they're frustrated right now,' Sivret says. 'I hope people will realize how dangerous it will be on Langdon. There are so many dark alleys, it's not well lit at all. There's an even greater risk for personal injury and damage to property for people going to Langdon.' People are talking about going anyways, both in comments on the lame-duck Facebook group as well as elsewhere out there in the online world of social networks.
'I think it's an understandable reaction,' says Phil Ejercito, a consistent critic of the city's plans and the creator of CRASH Madison, a system for providing live text message updates on Halloween. 'I don't think it's the wisest course of action,' he continues, 'but the city and the Halloween Action Committee organizers should have seen this coming. They didn't change anything.'
Madison Police Department Lieutenant Carl Gloede is a part of the team responsible for planning for and managing the Halloween event next weekend, whether crowds gather on State Street, Langdon Street, or elsewhere in the heart of the city. 'We hope that the students would embrace the event on State Street and make it something they support,' he says. Nevertheless, Gloede continues, 'wherever the party should end up, we will have ample staffing both Friday and Saturday nights to deal with it.'
Lieutenant Gloede describes their plans for tackling the event. The department will have a full arrest processing center open both nights, as well as eight mobile response teams in the central district. 'They should be able to respond to house parties, disturbances and large crowds,' he says, 'and we have plans to mobilize officers assigned to State Street to respond to any situation that may rise in the downtown area.'
In 2005, the police arrested about 500 persons, and Gloede says the city can easily maintain that capacity should it be needed this year. 'If individuals choose to make bad choices as far as out of control house parties, damaged property or large disturbances, it forces the city to take a more forceful stance towards the event.'
'The issue of moving the party to Langdon continues to be, what are you going to do there?' notes George Twigg, spokesperson for Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. 'There are not going to be many parties, it's just this dark street with no bars, so what are you going to do?' Indeed, most fraternities are planning on remaining dark and quiet next weekend to avoid any possible trouble in the form of raucous partiers or police fines. Nevertheless, 'it's hard to know for sure what every possibility might be,' Twigg says. 'It was our impression all along that there would be a lot of back and forth about people wanting to party on Langdon.'
If revelers do gather on Langdon, Gloede says the police will be ready and traffic will be redirected away from the road. 'We have taken into consideration that Langdon Street could be an issue. Unless it's a public safety issue, we will not force people off the street,' he says. 'If it is a public safety issue or they are doing potentially dangerous things in the street, we will have to evaluate it as it occurs and we will react accordingly.'
Ejercito says he will be prepared to let his subscribers know no matter what occurs. 'If there is a large gathering on Langdon or if people are buying tickets at 70 per minute, then CRASH Madison will be the place to find out about that.'
As for the Facebook group, Sivret says it's only a matter of time before it's gone. 'We've actually noticed that there are quite a few people leaving it, so to us it means people aren't interested in moving the party to Langdon anymore. We originally left it up to facilitate feedback because we still wanted to hear from people, but it's mostly just a forum now for people to complain rather than anything constructive.'