From left: Mayoral aide Joel Plant, MFD Chief Debra Amesqua, MPD Capt. Mary Schauf, and Dave Maynard of Frank Productions address reporters at a Wednesday press conference on Freakfest 2008.
Madison Police are aware of plans for an unsanctioned Halloween block party on West Mifflin Street this Saturday, but have not met with party organizers.
The Daily Cardinal reported Wednesday that UW-Madison students Alex Kaufer and Xiyang Chen feel students need an alternative to the official city-sponsored Freakfest, which features large music stages with bands like O.A.R. and is sponsored by Mountain Dew. Freakfest turns State Street into a fenced-off party on Saturday, Nov. 1, and charges attendees $7 admission.
"Are we watching the Mifflin thing?" said Madison Police Capt. Mary Schauf, addressing reporters on State Street at a Wednesday Freakfest press conference. "Oh yes, we are."
Schauf downplayed the city's concern, however, saying students have traditionally thrown big house parties before, during and after the official Halloween festivities. Joel Plant, an aid to Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, pointed out that a similar alternative was planned in 2006 on Langdon Street, but organizers eventually canceled plans after meeting with police and city officials.
Plant admitted that the city has had no such meeting with the Mifflin party organizers yet.
"We're not overly concerned," Plant said. "No street use permit has been pulled, so there is no formal party planned."
Formal or not, the alternative party's Facebook page listed 103 confirmed guests as of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, with another 700-plus invites circulating via the social networking site.
The Facebook page promoting the party reads, in part:
This Saturday, we invite you to celebrate Halloween the way you'd like to.
Come to Mifflin St. for a free, unregulated block party that's certain to be more fun than State St.
We ain't promoting ignorance. Leave your riot gear at home. We're trying to have fun, not to piss people off.
Don't forget to wear a costume. It's Halloween after all.
A third party organizer, UW-Madison senior Christian von Preysing-Barry, told The Daily Page Wednesday afternoon that if he has his way, students will simply show up on Mifflin and gather peacefully, demonstrating that the excesses of Freakfest are unnecessary and unwelcome by many students.
"I understand where the city is coming from, having to respond to violence and vandalism in past years," said von Preysing-Barry. "But it's a stretch that they have to include stadium lights, cameras, P.A. systems, posses of police, police on horseback. And bad music."
Von Preysing-Barry, who lives in a UW-Madison residence hall, said he has been contacted by owntown Madison Ald. Mike Verveer and will meet with him Wednesday night.
Schauf said 200 officers will be on duty in the State Street corridor during Freakfest with other officers patrolling an "extended event area" that includes much of downtown.
"We do know that we will have house parties and we do have a plan in place," Schauf said. "But I'm not seeing anything that rises to the level of hazard or threat."