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Does HallOUween benefit Athens?

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Athens Halloween Block Party. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Costs are high on Halloween weekend. The streets are packed — but are the businesses prospering?

The Halloween Block Party celebration in Athens saw an influx in the town’s population by thousands of people. But does the city truly benefit from the extra people?

According to an email from Lt. Tim Ryan of the Ohio University Police Department, the extra citations issued to visitors don’t outweigh the costs of having all members of the force working throughout the weekend.

“I think there might be a misperception about the kind of money police departments receive from citations,” he said. “On any particular weekend, even a busy one, OUPD could receive anywhere from zero to a few hundred dollars that trickle back over time from fines imposed by the courts. Meanwhile, our overtime cost for Halloween weekend last year was $17,965.63.”

OUPD typically enlists help from other agencies as well. In previous years they’ve invited officers from the Lancaster and Delaware Police Departments along with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

The many drinking establishments in Athens aren’t reaping benefits either. Although Court Street is packed full of people, that doesn’t necessarily correlate with the number of bar patrons.

“Halloween really isn’t that much (in sales),” Nathan Rockwell, an employee of the Pigskin Bar and Grille, said. “Homecoming is big for sure and graduation is huge.”

Some establishments, like Courtside Pizza, raise their prices on account of the population increase.

“I haven’t worked a Halloween yet, but I feel like the restaurants would benefit more,” Courtside Pizza bartender Liam Quigley said. “That’s just my perspective. The streets are packed but it’s the same amount of people in the bars.”

Historically, anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000 party-goers descend onto the streets of Athens. Last year showed lower attendance than previous years, which also correlated with fewer incidents reported by police. Additionally, mounted police only made appearances at a few house parties.

OUPD made 12 arrests on Saturday last year, which pales in comparison to the 69 arrests made on Friday and Saturday of Halloween 2016.

Ohio U and the city of Athens work in conjunction with one another in order to help regulate the crowds and ensure safety. In previous years, this has been expensive for both parties. The university has reported spending around $115,000 and the city of Athens about $70,000 in past years.

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