Ohio might not be the Spring Break destination of choice, but we do have the best Halloween party.
By Joe Bugbee
They call it the largest block party in the world, and in a sense, it probably is.
The annual Halloween bash at Ohio University takes up four city blocks, caters to roughly 20,000 to 30,000 dressed up college students and costs anywhere between $40,000 to $50,000 to put on.
Now that’s a block party.
The party starts today in Athens and continues throughout the weekend, climaxed by a swarm of enthusiastic collegians, dressed up in all sorts of outfits parading on Court Street. There is food, drinking and the occasional arrest, but no doubt about it — it is one of the most highly anticipated gatherings in Ohio.
Larry Payne, the president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce said that word about the Halloween party has spread not only throughout the state but to neighboring states as well.
“It’s one of those things that’s spreading by name,” Payne said. “Students from the University of Michigan and Penn State come down, but mainly it’s a statewide event.” Payne said that one of the main reasons the party draws so many people from around the state is a “curiosity thing.”
“Some people may just come for a couple of hours to see what it is like,” he said.
The reason why people pass through is because of the enormity of the event.
“If you’re intimidated by thousands of people, you probably shouldn’t come,” Payne said.
But what is odd about the bash is that many students from OU actually go home on a big weekend such as this one, he said. To spread things out a little more, event coordinators have set up two bandstands and are trying to designate areas strictly for food and beverages.
“When thousands of people are shoulder to shoulder [it can get a little uncomfortable],” Payne said.
The event unofficially starts tonight when students usually have house parties and go out to the bars.
On Saturday, the town is not only filled to the brim with students from OU and other schools, but locals as well.
Misti Smith, an office manager at the Chamber of Commerce said that because some of the costumes worn by partiers can be a bit risqué, families with young children should look the other way. In fact, they usually are out of the way by 11 p.m., then the students take over.
” When you get a lot of drunk college students together, there are going be some different costumes,” Smith said.
Some of the costumes in the past, Smith said, have included kissing booths, pregnant nuns (with the “naughty” priests behind them), pimps and even mammogram machines.
If these kissing booths, nuns or mammogram machines happen to get out of control, there will be plenty of police around, including forces brought in from outside Athens to settle things down.
Every Halloween in Athens results in about 40 arrests, usually relating to girls lifting their tops or public urination.
But, according to Payne, the friendly atmosphere outweighs some of the troublemakers.
“If people come down here with that attitude [to have a good time], then the atmosphere will be very friendly,” he said.