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Apple Chill gears up for another year's festivities

Despite safety concerns, town prepares for fun

Cloggers, motorcycles and free condoms will fill Franklin Street on Sunday and transform downtown for the 34th Apple Chill street festival.

The festival will take over the area of Franklin Street between Henderson and Mallette streets from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Sonya Reddick Shaw, programming and marketing supervisor for the town Parks and Recreation Department said she expects 40,000 to 50,000 people to attend.

“Festivals like Apple Chill are good opportunities to bring people in from outside and show off,” said Aaron Nelson, executive director of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, an event sponsor.

“We are always excited to support any event that brings 50,000 people downtown.”

Shaw said about 175 vendors will participate in this year’s festival. Local businesses also will be open throughout the celebration.

But not everyone is as excited as Shaw and Nelson.

While Apple Chill is lauded as a popular community attraction, past events have drawn scrutiny because of violence that has occurred at unofficial “After Chill” events, when motorcyclists and others often take over downtown.

Last year, the town held a motorcycle and car send-off at the end of the festival as a way to help bridge the gap that some people said existed between the afternoon and the evening crowds.

But there was still a reported stabbing at the Local 506 that left two people injured.

In 2003, there were 12 reported fights at Apple Chill.

A shootout occurred in 1993 after the festival.

Chapel Hill Special Events Officer Phil Smith said about 140 officers will patrol the crowds at the event — an increase of about 25 from last year.

He said some officers will stay after the event is over, and the length of time they stay will depend on the crowds.

“The event itself is from 1 to 7,” Shaw said. “Anything after that is not with the town itself.”

She added that she was not aware of any After Chill parties the town has endorsed.

Cat’s Cradle will host rock band Cardinal Direction on Sunday night but is not adding extra security.

“It’s pretty much business as usual,” said Brian Risk, an employee at the concert venue.

While Shaw said officials haven’t made many changes to the event, at least one new booth will join the lineup.

The University’s Center for AIDS Research and the Student Health Action Coalition will offer free oral HIV testing.

The testing provides results in 20 minutes.

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Ariel Shumaker-Hammond, a research screener, said it’s important for people to realize they can get tested.

“The rate of HIV is actually going up on campuses,” she said.

The group has 100 HIV tests it can administer this weekend, and it will provide information on where to get tested if supplies run out.

Free condoms also will be distributed.

Another change from last year is the disappearance of the car show. Shaw said no group could be secured for such an event.

But the motorcycle show, sponsored by N.C. Divas, will be back and larger than last year’s.

This year, about 500 bikes will take the streets.

And a 30-year mainstay of the celebration — the Apple Chill Cloggers — will be back as usual.

“(Apple Chill) is where we got started,” clogger Jill Smith said. “It’s one of our annual events that we wouldn’t miss for the world.”

Other entertainment includes the Triangle Youth Ballet, the N.C. Jazz Ensemble and Lo-K-Shun.

There will also be a section of the street designated for children and an international food fair.

Free shuttles to the event will run every 20 minutes from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the N.C. 54 and Jones Ferry park-and-ride lots, ending at Cameron Avenue and South Columbia Street.

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