CHAPEL HILL - The Town of Chapel Hill’s scaled-down Homegrown Halloween will continue for its fifth year Wednesday night. In expectation of the crowds that come downtown, Franklin Street will close to traffic at 9 p.m. and be reopened at 11:30 p.m.
The joint effort of the town, university and downtown businesses aims to keep Halloween on Franklin Street a small town community gathering with smaller crowd sizes.
In the past, the event has attracted so many people (an estimated 80,000 in 2007) that the celebration and unofficial parade posed concerns about property crime, alcohol poisoning and gang-related violence, town leaders said in a news release.
“Public safety officials in Chapel Hill are mindful that even the best laid plans cannot guard completely against crowd surges and possible disaster,” the release said.
Here’s what you need to know if you are coming downtown. Street closures
Once again, the plan this year is to restrict traffic access to downtown Chapel Hill through lane and street closures starting.
There will be no bus shuttles although Safe Ride buses will operate for UNC students. Alcohol checkpoints will be in place at the event, and DWI enforcement will also take place with cooperation from the N.C. Highway Patrol. The town will work with downtown bar and restaurant owners to restrict alcohol sales after 1 a.m. All ABC permittees among the bars and restaurants in downtown will not permit customers to enter or re-enter after 1 a.m.
Because Homegrown Halloween on Franklin Street is geared to a local audience, the following restrictions are in place:
• Restricted access to downtown through lane and street closures
• No special event park and ride bus shuttles
• Parking will be essentially unavailable downtown
• Police plan to begin reopening Franklin Street at 11:30 p.m.
Chapel Hill Transit will run its usual bus routes although some will be rerouted due to the traffic diversion plan. Service on D, J, NS, NU and EZ Rider routes will end early. The Safe Ride bus routes normally in place on the weekends will be available to transport community members and UNC students away from downtown.Early bar closings
Downtown bars and restaurants will close their doors at 1 a.m. to new patrons. They also will charge a minimum $5 cover charge to patrons not attending private events. In addition, downtown convenience stores that sell alcohol will either close their doors or stop selling alcohol at 1 a.m.No parking downtown
As always, there will be little to no parking available close to downtown, and there will be no place for charter buses to drop off or pick up passengers. Charter buses entering the downtown Chapel Hill area will be directed by law enforcement officers to the outskirts of town prior to dropping off any passengers. There will also be no parking in the neighborhoods adjacent to downtown. Access to neighborhoods will be limited by barricades and police personnel at the roads leading into them. This will begin early in the evening. Prohibited Items
Police will confiscate costume accessories that look like weapons, as well as alcoholic beverages, glass bottles, paint, fireworks and explosives, flammable substances, animals and coolers Downtown Residents
The town will try to keep people who are attending the event from parking in downtown neighborhoods. Access will be limited by barricades and police personnel leading into the neighborhoods beginning early in the evening.
Residents of the neighborhood will be able to drive in and out of the enclosed area and should tell the officer at the barricade where they live.
Guests will also be able to enter and leave. They will need to tell the officer at the barricade exactly where they are going.
Illegally parked vehicles (even of residents, guests) will be ticketed and towed.
Traffic will be congested and getting past the barricades may be a slow process.
Yard waste collection will be cancelled on Thursday, with the next scheduled collection occurring on Nov. 8. Friday yard waste collection will be conducted as normal.Transit Changes
Chapel Hill Transit (CHT) will end service early on the D, J, NS and NU routes and EZ Rider to accommodate the Halloween celebration on Franklin Street. These changes will be in effect:
• D Route will end at 8:43 p.m. at the Sagebrook Apartments
• J Route will end at 8:56 p.m. at the Rock Creek Apartments
• NS Route will end at 8:38 p.m. at Eubanks Park and Ride
NU Route will end at 8:29 p.m. at RR Lot
• EZ Rider service will end at 8:30 p.m.
All other routes will operate on regular routes and published schedules, although minor delays may occur due to increased traffic.
Safe Ride buses will operate from 11 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., along detoured routes. View schedules and maps of safe ride routes at bit.ly/QGsJVC
. Safe Ride is a service funded by the UNC Student Government for the safety of students. Safe Rides will not serve the downtown/Franklin Street area, but will serve the following stops near downtown:
Safe T – pick up and drop off from Chapel Hill Town Hall
• Safe J – pick up and drop off from Passport Motors (Franklin Street at Graham Street)
• Safe G – pick up and drop off from Columbia Street at Sitterson Hall across from Carolina Inn
There will be no bus shuttles operating from park and ride lots to the Halloween celebration.
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