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Friday June 2nd

Franklin Street to be closed to traffic for Halloween for first time since pandemic

Students, families and community members gather on the sidewalks of Franklin Street on Halloween night, Oct. 31, 2021.
Buy Photos Students, families and community members gather on the sidewalks of Franklin Street on Halloween night, Oct. 31, 2021.

As Halloween approaches, Franklin Street will be closed for the first time since 2019 for the holiday festivities. There are also several events for all age groups in Chapel Hill and the greater Orange County area. 

Halloween on Franklin Street

From 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Halloween, the Town is closing Franklin Street, Columbia Street and several other connecting roads.

These road closures are in place to allow for an anticipated mass gathering for the holiday. Events on Franklin Street were canceled for the last few years because of COVID-19.

In previous years before the pandemic, visitor turnout was in the tens of thousands.

Logan Springer, a recent UNC alum, said Halloween in Chapel Hill is a unique experience.

“It was really unbelievable," he said. "You live in a college bubble and you have a lot of families out on Franklin Street. It’s one of the rare times the whole street is shut down and the community can come out.” 

Chapel Hill Communications Manager Ran Northam said a collaboration of local law enforcement is in place to help keep the event safe.

“Many partnering agencies will collaborate to make this closure possible, including the Town’s Police, Fire, Emergency Management, Public Works, Transit, Parking Services, Parks & Recreation, and Communications & Public Affairs departments and divisions,” Northam said in an email.

Despite the large turnout in years leading up to the pandemic, Springer said he felt safe during the celebration.

“It just felt like a family atmosphere and a good family event even though I was a college kid,” Springer said. 

Other events

The Carolina Theatre is hosting its fifth annual Rocky Horror Picture Show Halloween Ball. Screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show will be displayed on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 per person and each screening has 900 seats.

Senior Director of Film Jim Carl said throwing confetti, toilet paper, rice and other props during the film like typical screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show is prohibited at The Carolina Theatre because the theatre is a historic venue.

Carl said the Carolina Theatre has a full stage crew with theatrical lighting and sound effects. Additionally, the screening includes fog machines, glow bracelets and 25 staff members who direct audience members when to sit, stand, call back and when to do the time warp, he said.

"It’s not your grandfather’s Rocky Horror," Carl said. 

On Oct. 30, the Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Department is organizing its annual Haunted Hill event at the Chapel Hill Community Center. Haunted Hill will feature a trunk-or-treat event from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. followed by a screening of "Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo!"

Hosting a trunk for trunk-or-treating is open to local organizations, businesses and individuals alike. Since the event is typically catered to children 10 years old and under, decorations are recommended to be festive and not scary.

Vehicles should arrive around 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. to set up their trunks. Prizes for the best trunk, the people’s choice trunk and the most creative trunk will be awarded as well. 

Haunted Hill organizers anticipate around 500 to 600 visitors this year, according to Jenna Hambleton, recreation assistant for the Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Department.

Hambleton also said members of the community are excited to see the event return after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have contacted people who have hosted a trunk before and they’re really excited to come back out and do it," Hambleton said. "We have the police department coming out, the fire department coming out — and they’re very familiar with it and are happy to see it coming out again."

Hambleton also said there will be games and other pop-up activities at the event.

@DTHCityState | 

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